Based on early ballot returns, voter turnout for Tuesday’s Durango City Council election might be lower than it was in each of the past three elections.
Six candidates are vying for three open seats on City Council. As of Thursday, 2,391 city residents had returned their ballots, or about 17% of the 13,786 voters, according to the La Plata County Clerk and Recorder’s Office. Durango City Clerk Amy Phillips said it is too early to tell how voting will turn out, but she expects another wave of voting before Tuesday.
“In a typical city election, ballots come back in three waves,” Phillips said.
About a third of the ballots tend to be returned in the first few days after the ballots are mailed. Another third come in during the middle of the voting period, and the last third arrives in the last two days of voting, she said.
Voting ends at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Based on early ballot returns, Phillips expected about 3,500 votes this election – lower than results in 2015, 2017 and 2019, she said.
“We will just have to see. I’m sure COVID and weather have played a part in the slower turnout,” Phillips said.
City Council members approve the city’s budget and play an integral role in setting policy, determining priorities and deciding which projects receive funding. Their policy decisions influence utility rates, how parks are cared for and improved, and the quality and safety of roads and other infrastructure.
This year’s candidates include five newcomers, Olivier Bosmans, Jessika Buell, Seth Furtney, Frank Lockwood and Harrison Wendt, and one incumbent candidate, Melissa Youssef.
Candidates are finding different ways to solicit votes in the final days leading up to the election. Buell plans to spend the weekend knocking on doors to remind people to vote, while Wendt plans to text 3,000 people as part of a COVID-19-conscious campaign, he said.
On average, about 3,853 people have voted in each election since 2003; the highest voter turnout was in 2015.
“As with any election, we want every eligible elector to vote,” said Tiffany Lee, La Plata County clerk and recorder.
The ballots were sent more than three weeks before the election, and voters have access to three 24-hour drop box locations throughout the community, Lee said.
They can also return a ballot by mail, but it is likely too late to return a ballot by mail and have it arrive on time, so residents are advised to use the drop boxes.
“There is still time. Please vote your ballot and return to a drop box location by 7 p.m.,” Lee said.
If a ballot has been rejected, voters have until April 14 to correct the issue. The cure period is for ballots that have been rejected for a missing signature, signature discrepancy, identification required, or military or overseas voters who transmitted their ballot on election day, Lee said.