Tuesdays election was marked by high voter turnout and a significant increase in ballots returned by mail, officials at the La Plata County Clerk and Recorders Office said.
According to unofficial results, voter turnout was 71.42 percent this year, compared to 67.9 percent in the 2006 midterm election. Tiffany Lee, the countys elections technician, said she had never seen the energy level so high on Election Day.
People are paying attention more and are realizing that every vote matters, said Lee, who was elected the countys next clerk and recorder Tuesday.
From what election officials heard from voters throughout the night, many people at the polls had never voted or had not voted in years, she said.
Voters mailed in 11,276 ballots this year, which is about 3,600 more than the number of mail-in ballots the county received in 2008.
The five hours it took to collect and count returns from all 30 precincts was pretty average, Lee said. The office experienced more of a delay toward the end of the night because ballots were slow to come in from precincts 19, 20 and 26 in Bayfield.
Election judges there said turnout was large and at 7 p.m., there still were about 100 people in line waiting to vote. After the polls closed, it also took a while for volunteers to drive the ballots to Durango, Lee said.
Provisional votes also were up this year, possibly because it has become easier for voters to get provisional ballots and for election officials to process them, Lee said.
The number of provisional ballots increased from 185 in 2006 to about 600 this year, she said.