Latest early voting figures show current turnout in Colorado isn’t quite as high as 2014 (for now)

GOP voters are currently outpacing Dems, but only slightly.
4 min. read
Ballot operations assistant Dan Mock works behind an automated signature scanner that processes nearly every one of the votes casted in the election that ended on June 28, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

More than 360,000 ballots have already been returned in Colorado, but the numbers are lagging behind return numbers from the previous midterm election.

Figures released by the Secretary of State’s office on Thursday showed 367,927 ballots have already been returned for this year’s midterm election. But that’s roughly 150,000 fewer than the same turnout reported by the office four years ago.

The office reported on Oct. 24, 2014, that 518,610 ballots had already been returned. (A note: the reason for comparing different dates is that this year’s ballots started being mailed out on Oct. 15. But the first day that mail ballots may be mailed to voters changes depends on the election day that year. So they were first mailed out Oct. 14 in 2014.)

GOP voters are currently outpacing Dems, but only slightly. The party breakdown from Thursday’s numbers includes 129,008 ballots returned by Democrats, 131,230 by Republicans and 103,472 by unaffiliated voters. For comparison, in 2014, Democrats had returned 164,443 ballots, Republicans had returned 226,923 ballots and unaffiliated voters had returned 121,812 ballots.

Denver County voters have returned 30,696 ballots so far this year, with most of them from Democrats (17,206). Unaffiliated voters have returned 8,275 ballots, while Republicans have returned 4,851 ballots in Denver.

There are some contributing factors to the current, relatively low turnout. As pollster David Flaherty of Magellan Strategies noted in a post Thursday, “counties are not processing ballots on the exact same timeline as 2014.”

There have been two reported cases in the state where ballots were not delivered on time.

Nearby Adams County had perhaps the biggest mixup when 61,000 ballots weren’t delivered after they failed to make the mail stream on Oct. 15. The ballots were put in a “secure location” while they awaited delivery.

The ballots included Adams County Clerk and Recorder Stan Martin's own ballot. His office on Tuesday said the ballots were now in U.S. Postal Service hands and should be delivered over the next fews day.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams said in a separate release on Wednesday that the hold up in Adams County happened because one of the four trucks delivering ballots for the county was turned away in Denver due to what USPS said was "insufficient payment documentation for USPS to accept the shipment.” Williams said postal employees "failed to escalate the situation, which is why the Post Office initially claimed there had been no delivery attempt."

Martin said in release that he understood voter’s frustrations after not receiving their ballots.

“My team and I worked diligently today to get to the bottom of why those 61,000 ballots hadn’t been delivered, and I’m happy to report that they’ll be hitting mailboxes soon,” Martin said in a release this week. “I personally witnessed the ballots being removed from the secure and sealed trailer and then I verified that USPS started processing them.”

Down in southeast Colorado, Bent County Clerk Patti Nickell on Wednesday said she would be reissuing 500 ballots after they hadn’t been delivered and USPS hadn’t been able to locate them, according to a release from the Secretary of State’s office.

“We are going to work all day to get them out," Nickell said in the release. The ballots for the county expected to arrive Friday after new ballots were ordered.

"Our office has visited the Post Office facility in Denver, and talked to clerks in these two counties as well as other clerks," Williams said in Wednesday’s release. "Voting is a sacred right and we want everyone's voice to be heard."

Correction: A previous version incorrectly referred to Bent County as being in southwest Colorado; it is in southeast Colorado. 

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