Voter turnout surging in Jefferson County with Republicans leading

With one last weekend to go, voter turnout in Jefferson County for Tuesday’s election looks much like it did in 2013, when the conservative majority for the Jefferson County Board of Education was swept in.

As of Friday, according to the Secretary of State, 93,089 ballots had been turned in to the Jefferson County elections division. That includes 32,029 Democrats, 33,680 Republicans, and 26,584 unaffiliated voters.

That’s about half of the total number of ballots cast in the 2013 election that brought in the conservative majority. However, of the 178,000 votes received in 2013, more than 40,000 voters did not take a side in the school board races.

Turnout in 2013 was low in Jefferson County, not unusual for an odd-numbered year election. Of 413,000 eligible voters, only 43 percent cast ballots.

But if repeated this year, that low voter turnout may actually favor the five candidates backed by those supporting the recall of the three conservative members of the Jefferson County Board of Education: John Newkirk, Julie Williams and Ken Witt.

“Low voter turnout tends to favor the most passionate, enthusiastic and most angry,” according to Seth Masket, a political science professor at the University of Denver who looks at voter turnout. “Those are the people who are most able to get people out to vote” and it tends to favor those with more at stake personally. In a school board race, Masket said, that would be teachers and their immediate family and friends.

Masket also said that there’s little to indicate that 2015 will be a high-turnout election, even with constant reminders through ads and campaigns that an election is coming. Even a 40 percent turnout in an odd-numbered year election is doing well, Masket said.

The pro-recall side has been noisiest, if not the most passionate. Twice in the last two months, supporters have lined long stretches of Wadsworth Blvd., one of the main north-south streets in the county, with signs advocating for the recall of the three board members and for voters to cast their ballots in favor of the slate of five candidates supported by the pro-recall side.

Ballotpedia, a website calls that itself the “encyclopedia of American politics,” in a list of top ten nationwide races to watch on November 3, lists the Jeffco recall as number one.

 

Photo credit; Erik (HASH) Hersman, Creative Commons, Flickr

has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.

1 COMMENT

  1. What is wrong with you people? The balance of your schools lies in ddanger of being taken over by the Koch brothers. Why don’t you people CARE enough to put a damned stamp on an envelope and send it back in? These are YOUR children’s futures at stake, and you can’t even be bothered to fill in a form and send it back?

    Never mind, then. I guess I am showing how “out of it” I am by thinking that people would give enough of a damn about their lives to fill in a ballot. The country is truly OVER with if people care this little about the things they TRULY CAN affect.

    Fine, Jeffco, you LOSERS! Don’t ANY of you DARE to whine when you don’t get what you think you deserve. You’ll be getting it alright. And you deserve it, too.

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