Ballot counting went smoothly in Boulder County on Tuesday night, with 87,621 ballots – 74 percent of the projected total -- tallied by 3 a.m.

Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall said she expected to have all of the estimated 119,000 ballots cast counted by around 5 or 6 a.m. Wednesday.

More than 78,000 Boulder County residents had already voted by Monday evening via mail or by going to an early voting location.

"We were very busy and steady practically all day with mail-in ballots yesterday," Hall said Tuesday. "But some people really like that Election Day experience and want to come out to the polls."

Polls and ballot drop-off locations saw steady traffic throughout the county Tuesday, Hall said.

"We had a rush at the end with people not knowing where to vote," she said. "But otherwise it was pretty consistent."

The turnout in the county Tuesday was similar to 2006 -- Colorado's last gubernatorial election -- when 119,790 voters cast ballots.

This year, a variety of issues brought out voters. County residents at the polls Tuesday cited the statewide amendments on abortion and taxation, as well as the close U.S. Senate race as reasons for voting. Other local residents said voting is a civic duty that's always important no matter the races and issues on the ballot.

Boulder resident John Staarmann, 55, drove through the drop-off station Tuesday morning before work to turn in his and his son's mail-in ballots.

"We filled them out together last night," Staarmann said. "It gets him to do it, but some of those issues are confusing, so it gives us a chance to talk them out and make sure he understands what he's voting for."

Boulder resident Angela Vandermeyden, 30, said she also is trying to instill civic engagement in her own children, even though her two daughters are not old enough to vote themselves.

"It's important to help them understand why we should vote, even early on," Vandermeyden said. "But this year it's been really difficult to explain to the girls with so many negative ads clouding their minds."

Vandermeyden said her 7-year-old daughter Cynthia asked, "Why do we vote, mommy, when everyone is being so mean."