Denver’s clerk and recorder, Paul López, identified a problem with the city’s municipal elections about a year after winning his office in a runoff election: Its municipal election schedules don’t comply with federal and state law when a runoff is required, and it may be disenfranchising voters as a result.
Referred Question 2H on the Nov. 2 ballot asks voters to address that by moving up the city’s general election up to the first Tuesday in April in odd-numbered years instead of the current charter-mandated first Tuesday in May.
If adopted, 2H would take effect in time for the 2023 city election, when all 13 council seats and the mayor’s office are up for grabs.
Supporters of 2H say that with two months between the general election and any June runoff, the city should have adequate time to order ballots from a vendor and ship them to voters in city limits and those living overseas or deployed with the military.
As outlined on the city’s website, law dictates that mail-in ballots have to be shipped to all voters 21 days before an election, 45 days for people living overseas.
“It’s just the simplest solution to a simple problem,” Denver City Councilman Kevin Flynn said of 2H. Flynn served on a committee that reviewed the city charter to find ways to bring municipal elections into compliance.
Moving the spring election back a month was not the only option the committee considered — it turned down the idea of pivoting to a ranked-choice voting system, one in which voters number candidates in order of preference.
In the city’s 2021 voting guide, 2H opponents said ranked-choice voting is the preferable option because it would only require the city to pay for one round of ballots and do away with “the annoying runoff election” that gives special interest groups more time to weigh in on races.
Flynn likened pivoting to ranked-choice voting to bringing a car in for a simple repair and walking out of the shop with an entirely new car.
“Moving the date one month back,” he said, “that provides the clerk with all the time the clerk needs to comply. Simple. Easy. Done.”
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