Voter turnout for Denver’s June primary election is super low

Boomers are crushing younger generations in voter participation.
4 min. read
Mel Johnson drops off a ballot at the Central Park Recreation Center on Election Day, Nov. 5, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Guess who's not voting in the June Denver primary election?

So far, according to Denver Elections, it's most Denverites.

As of Monday morning, more than 87 percent of voters still had not cast their ballots.

Why? Do we even know why?

There are political seasons when people finger-wag endlessly about how everybody should vote, people died for the right and no duty is more sacred. These tend to be the massive national elections where our vote counts the least. 

The June 25 Denver primary election is the other sort — a partisan state primary for statehouse races, district attorney and a University of Colorado regent that most Denver voters just don’t muster the energy to care about.

Sure, your vote is statistically more consequential here than it will be in November. Denver’s District Attorney, the top prosecutor in the city, will most likely be chosen in this race. And Districts 6 and District 4 have wildly competitive races.

But really, most voters clearly don’t bother.

After all, the party machines aren’t drumming up enthusiasm for participation. Without that drumming, the people aren’t exactly marching to the polls. 

In fact, it’s crickets quiet out there.

Look to the Denver Elections voter turnout data for proof. 

The dire turnout trend is true across Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters, and all third-party members and unregistered people too.

A paltry 16 percent of Democrats had outvoted an even paltrier 12 percent of Republicans in Denver.

A paltriest 8 percent of unaffiliated voters, who have the chance to participate in either the Democratic or Republican primaries, still hadn’t cast a ballot.

Of course, third-party voters don’t participate at all in the primaries, so nobody can gripe about them for failing to participate. The system doesn’t allow it.

And anarchists, well, they take a moral stance against voting, in a sort of vote-not-to-vote way, and they, too, have a principled explanation.

But most people aren’t third-party members or anarchists.

So where are they? Sitting it out.

As normal, people 65 and up have been crushing every other age bracket in voter turnout data by more than two-to-one.

Well done, once again, to the Boomers and beyond.

A total of 34,727 people ages 55 and older had voted. That’s more than twice the 14,944 people from 18 to 54 who had voted.

Most young people (those under 24) don’t seem to know an election is happening. The rest of Gen Z, Millennials and Gen Xers aren’t exactly doing their part either.

Maybe they’re too busy working multiple jobs and scrambling to pay off student loans and overpriced rent, mortgages or childcare? 

Maybe they don’t believe in the system that has led to an affordability crisis, climate change, endless wars and a mental health emergency? 

Or maybe they like to hold out until the final hour and make sure all the information about candidates has dropped?

Each person, of course, has a different take.

If you’ve dawdled long enough and now want to vote in the Denver primary election, you can still do so until the clock strikes 7 p.m. on June 25. 

Here's an explainer on how to participate in the June 2024 primary election.

And ere's Denverite’s voter guide, with information about the races, the candidates and more.

If you’re nice enough to still be reading this, but don’t live in Denver and still haven’t voted, here is Colorado Public Radio’s voter guide.

Get busy and tune in to Denverite tomorrow for Election Day coverage. 

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