Colorado ballot returns show Republicans still hold the advantage in early voting on Election Day morning

Going into the home stretch, Colorado Republicans hold an 18,000-ballot advantage in early voting.

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Thumbs up for voting. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Going into the home stretch, Colorado Republicans hold an 18,000-ballot advantage in early voting, but there are still 1.5 million registered voters who could potentially cast a ballot today.

Ballot returns released Tuesday morning by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office show Republicans have returned 34.8 percent of the 2.2 million ballots cast so far, compared to Democrats’ 33.9 percent and 29.6 percent for unaffiliated voters.

The percentage of ballots returned by unaffiliated voters has increased in the last day, and unaffiliated voters typically make up a larger share of the people who vote on Election Day.

In raw numbers, these returns look like this:

Democrats: 753,052

Republicans: 771,745

Unaffiliated: 656,882

More total ballots have been returned in the Republican stronghold of El Paso County — 262,068 — than in Denver, where 242,263 people have voted so far.

Republicans and Democrats are nearly tied — 89,729 to 89,224 — for returns in Jefferson County, with unaffiliated voters having returned more than 87,000 ballots.

In Arapahoe County, Democrats have returned 86,968 ballots to Republicans’ 79,079.

Jefferson and Arapahoe counties are considered swing counties that tend to go as the state does, while other counties are more reliably Republican or Democratic.

Political scientists and analysts caution against reading too much into early voting statistics. Traditionally, Republicans have held the lead in these numbers in Colorado regardless of who ultimately won the contest. Voters who come out on Election Day tend to be younger and more likely to be unaffiliated and vote differently than voters who vote early. This year, Democrats led in the first week of voting, but Republicans overtook them and have widened their lead in the last few days.

Polls are open until 7 p.m. today. I know it seems like the 2016 election had no beginning and will have no end, but today is actually the last day to vote.

THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE!

Drop off your ballot in person or vote in person at a voter service center.

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