About 19% of Colorado’s active voters had submitted their ballots for the Nov. 2 election as of Sunday night, according to data from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.
The total number of ballots cast as of that date is 755,631 out of the more than 3.89 million active voters — registered voters whose mailing addresses are current and confirmation cards or previous mail ballots have not bounced back.
Unaffiliated voters make up the largest voting bloc in the state and are leading the way with a return rate of 34.56% (261,171 ballots), followed by Republicans at 32.95% (249,009 ballots) and Democrats at 31.53% (238,267 ballots), according to the most recent data available from the secretary of state’s office. Libertarians have made up 0.63% of the ballots cast (4,798 ballots).
While the turnout appears low with two days left before the election, that doesn’t come as a surprise to Seth Masket, the director of the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver. He said early turnout numbers can sometimes be misleading because there are a number of reasons voters may way to turn in their ballots closer to Election Day.
In 2019, about 44.8% of registered voters cast ballots and about 22% had submitted them two days before the election, according to secretary of state’s office data. A 9News analysis showed that the average voter turnout in odd-year elections for the last three years was 37%, whereas the last three even-year elections had a turnout average of 73%.
And although Colorado is known for its high turnout, odd-year elections don’t see the same kind of response from voters.
Plus, this year, there don’t seem to be quite as many hotly-contested races as in other elections, Masket said. Even those that are aren’t attracting as much high spending and negative campaigning, he added.
“Obviously there’s a number of important races; there’s a few important (statewide) initiatives, some school board races. But most of the ballot initiatives on there are somewhat obscure,” he said. “I think a lot of voters find them a little hard to understand. There’s very few of them that are a very obvious culture-war type thing. … They’re considerably more technical.”
Add in the trend of elections getting more nationalized and media focusing on national politics, and voters are not as dialed into what’s going on locally, Masket said.
“I’m guessing we’ll see a probably fairly high turnout in next year’s midterm elections when there are big national issues that will be discussed,” he said. “But the issues that are on the ballot right now, they don’t really fit into national politics all that well. And they haven’t really been covered that way.”
Voters have until 7 p.m. on Election Day to put ballots in drop boxes or to vote at in-person locations. It’s too late to mail ballots back.
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