Early voting figures show Democratic voter turnout in Colorado is slowly growing

Denver County is behind 2014 numbers and young voters haven’t returned a lot of ballots yet.

Ballots are sorted for mailing in a massive machine inside the U.S. Postal Service's sorting and shipping facility in Stapleton, Oct. 16, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Ballots are sorted for mailing in a massive machine inside the U.S. Postal Service's sorting and shipping facility in Stapleton, Oct. 16, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

More than half a million Coloradans have cast their ballot for the November election, with the latest figures released Monday by the Secretary of State’s office showing 618,942 ballots have been returned.

The overall numbers are still a bit behind the 2014 election, when 660,113 had already been returned during the comparable time in October 2014.

Monday’s numbers show Republicans have a slight edge over Democrats in early returns, with GOP voters returning 219,064 ballots so far compared to 216,653 for Democrats. Behind the two major parties are unaffiliated voters with 176,143 ballots returned.

More women (312,149) than men (302,770) have returned ballots so far. It includes 124,849 female Democrats who have returned their ballots, the most among all party and gender subgroups. Behind them are Republican men, who have returned 113,427 ballots.

“Republicans, however, are well off pace from the comparable point during the last midterm cycle in 2014, while Democrats and Unaffiliated voters are now ahead of their pace,” Ryan Winger of the polling firm Magellan Strategies said in a ballot return report on Monday. Winger said this suggests an “enthusiasm gap” favoring Dems.

Overall, young voters are slacking behind older voters.

Young voters between the ages of 18 to 35 could be pivotal in helping sway this year’s election in Colorado.

But just 23,756 ballots (3.8 percent of all ballots) have been returned by the youngest group of voters, aged 18 to 25, including an almost even split across gender groups — 11,174 female, 11,531 male. For comparison, more than 80,000 ballots have already been returned among their second-closest age group (26 to 40).

The returns among 18- to 25-year-olds include 9,105 ballots from unaffiliated voters, 8,241 from Democrats and 5,877 from Republicans.

“It’s definitely not a cause for concern. We should not be worried at all,” said Charley Olena, advocacy director at New Era Colorado. New Era focuses on engaging young voters and this year helped register more than 40,000 young voters in the state for this election cycle.

Data from Magellan Strategies (which has slightly different numbers than the Secretary of State’s office), showed that during the 2014 election, 70 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 34 voted within the last five days of the election, Olena said.

“So for that reason, you have to take early voting numbers with a hefty grain of salt when it comes to young people,” Olena said.

In Denver County, 59,886 ballots have been returned.

That includes 33,306 from Democrats, the most out of any county in Colorado. Unaffiliated voters in Denver have returned 16,493 ballots, while Republicans have returned 9,407 ballots. The county has 409,796 total active voters.

Similar to statewide figures, Denver County’s overall numbers are lagging behind 2014 returns. In the same time frame, Denver County voters had already returned 69,098 ballots, including 37,296 from Democrats, 15,909 from unaffiliated voters and 15,048 from Republicans. The numbers also reflect how enthusiasm is favoring Dems in Denver County (where more than 45 percent of residents are registered Democrats).

The Secretary of State’s office doesn’t recommend sending your ballot by mail at this point.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams said in a release Monday that he no longer recommends mailing your ballot after today. He suggests dropping off ballots in 24-hour drop boxes (you can find a list of drop boxes for Denver County here).

You do not need stamps if you drop your ballot in one of these boxes.

Ballots need to be in the hands of an election official by 7 p.m. on Nov. 6. Sending your ballot after today won’t guarantee it gets there in time to be counted.

“I have worked very hard to provide funding for our county clerks to set up 24-hour drop boxes so voters can drop off their ballots any time of the day or night,” Williams said in the release. “In Colorado, we want to make it as easy as possible for people to vote.”

Today is also the last day to request a ballot be mailed to you; however, you will need to drop it off at a 24-hour drop box, at a vote center or in-person during election day.

The article has been updated throughout.