Denver Sets Early Voting Turnout Record

The number of early votes cast in 2006 in Denver was 19,424.  This is the largest number of early votes ever cast in Denver outside a Presidential election.  Early voting is now over.  Only absentee and election day voting remain this year.

The record number of early votes cast in a non-Presidential election before 2006 was 16,404 set in the 1998 race for Colorado Governor.  Denver is also on track to have a record number of votes cast early or absentee combined this year, and may break that record as soon as today.This year’s early voting turnout is just shy of the 20,244 early votes cast in the 2000 Presidential election, but is well behind the 37,606 early votes cast in the 2004 Presidential election. 

So far 33,145 absentee ballots have been returned to the Election Commission in Denver, and more ballots can be returned right up until election day.  At this point, it is best for anyone still having an absentee ballot to deliver it directly to election officials, rather than mailing it.  This is because absentee ballots must be received by election officials, not merely mailed, by election day.

The record number of absentee ballots cast in any (non-exclusively mail in) election in Denver was set in the 2000 Presidential election when 66,314 absentee ballots were cast.  The record number of absentee ballots cast in Denver in a non-Presidential election was set in the 2002 election for Governor when 53,533 absentee ballots were cast.  A little more than half of the absentee ballots still outstanding in Denver would have to be returned to break that record.

The record for ballots cast by early vote or absentee ballot combined, set in the 2004 Presidential election, is 113,796.  Even if every single absentee ballot requested in Denver was returned, Denver wouldn’t break that record this year.

But, the record for ballots cast by early vote or absentee ballot combined in a non-Presidential election year is 61,847, set in the 2002 race for Colorado Governor.  Another 9,278 absentee ballots need to be returned for Denver to break this turnout record, something very likely to happen, given the large number of absentee ballots still outstanding and not yet received by the Election Commission prior to today.

It won’t be clear until tomorrow whether this reflects higher turnout in 2006 as a whole, or just as shift towards early and absentee voting, from traditional election day voting.  Election officals and all political parties in Colorado have urged voters not to wait until election day to vote this year in light of an exceptionally long ballot that might create lines on election day.

The record total turnout in a non-Presidential election year in Denver was 163,995, set in the Colorado Governor’s race in 1998.  To break this record, 111,426 people would have to vote either on election day, or by returning absentee ballots today or tomorrow.  Given the number of absentee ballots currently outstanding, this would suggest that even with this kind of record turnout, election day voting in Denver would be at a near record low for a year in which Colorado is electing a Governor.