Coloradans Are Turning In Their Ballots At A Slow Pace, So Far

Nathaniel Minor/CPR News
Ballots are sorted at the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s office in October 2018.
Photo: Ballot counting in Boulder County October 2018
Ballots are sorted at the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder's office in October 2018.

So far this midterm election season, Coloradans are returning their ballots at a comparatively slow pace.

Figures the Colorado Secretary of State's office released Friday show voters have returned 468,366 ballots so far. That's well off the pace of the last midterm election in 2014, when at least 518,610 ballots had been returned by this point of the campaign.

Historical data shows turnout is always higher in presidential years, making midterm to midterm comparisons more useful; in 2014, 2.1 million ballots were cast versus 2.85 million ballots in 2016.

Another difference this year: voters aren’t deciding on a U.S. Senate seat like they did in 2014. There are, however, a wealth of statewide races and ballot initiatives -- you can find info on all of them in our 2018 Voter Guide.

So far, more Republicans (168,065) than Democrats (162,906) and unaffiliated voters (132,066) have returned ballots. But that roughly 5,000 vote margin between Republicans and Democrats is much smaller than existed at this same time period in 2014 when Republicans led by more than 60,000 votes.

“While it is still likely too early to draw definitive conclusions from the ballot return data, it does appear that Democrats have closed the gap that existed at this point in the election cycle during the last midterm election,” David Flaherty, a Republican pollster at Magellan Strategies, wrote Friday. “It remains to be seen whether that means that they are just voting earlier or whether there will be a significant increase in Democratic voters participating in this election.”

Democrats are slightly ahead in closely watched swing counties like Jefferson and Arapahoe. But with more than a week left before Election Day, there’s plenty of time for activists and campaigns to keep pushing voters to return their ballots.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis is heading to the Western Slope this weekend for a series of events. His opponent, Republican Walker Stapleton, is heading to meet and greets in Cañon City and Colorado Springs on Saturday.

Monday is last day to register and still get ballot by mail. Voters can still register through Election Day in person.