Why These Coloradans Are Voting Early, And In Droves

October 16, 2020
Samantha Rhodes completes her civic duty for the November, 2020 election outside of the Carla Madison Rec Center on Colfax Avenue. Oct. 16, 2020.Samantha Rhodes completes her civic duty for the November, 2020 election outside of the Carla Madison Rec Center on Colfax Avenue. Oct. 16, 2020.Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Samantha Rhodes completes her civic duty for the November, 2020 election outside of the Carla Madison Rec Center on Colfax Avenue. Oct. 16, 2020.

A very personal experience is driving Kyle Giddings, who lives in Arvada, to vote early. 

He said addiction took over his life and he stole to fuel it. He’s a convicted felon who dropped off his ballot sooner rather than later because he wanted to set a civic example “to my fellow brothers and sisters who are struggling through the label and second class status of being a felon.”

He wanted them to know that, “it’s okay to vote early. And several of my friends didn’t even know they could vote.”

Colorado does allow people who have completed their sentences or are on parole to vote. More than any other issue, candidates’ positions on criminal justice drove Giddings’ choices in the election. 

In Broomfield, Al Wirtes said helping his fellow citizens was his motivation to cast his ballot soon after he got it. He wanted to do his part to keep lines short for those who choose to vote on Nov. 3. 

“If we get significant more turnout, I just wanted my ballot to be out of the way to make sure there was enough capacity to handle the turnout with having more people to vote,” he explained.

As of Thursday, 436,433 voters had returned their ballots, according to the Colorado Secretary of State, with Democrats and Unaffiliated voters outpacing Republicans in these early returns.

For Nylah Burton, lines were foremost on her mind. The Denver-based writer said she voted early because she’s concerned about voter suppression happening in other states.

“The only thing that’s not happening to me is I’m not being forced to wait eight hours in line, or I’m not being forced to expose myself to COVID-19,” she said. “But when it comes to the repercussions of the election, voter suppression is very much all of our issue, no matter how smoothly our state runs.”

Elliot Goldbaum was pleasantly surprised by how smooth the process went for him. Usually, the Aurora resident likes to hang onto his ballot. He actually enjoys getting political mail, like candidate flyers that litter his mailbox this time of year. He likes to see the last-minute arguments and pitches candidates make. This year he's willing to give that up.

“With everything going on with the Post Office and national politics, I decided I didn’t want to take any chances,” he said.  He’s relieved.

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“You know, it wasn’t until I checked my ballot status and saw it had been accepted, that was when I really kind of wiped the sweat off my forehead and said I’m glad that it’s over with.”

A desire to avoid any problems, especially with signature verification, motivated Sarah Taafe of Denver to drop off her ballot ahead of schedule. She got married in April and changed her last name. The Department of Motor Vehicles informed the Denver Elections Division of the change.

“That was great and awesome and one less piece of paper I had to fill out,” she said, but she still worried about what it would mean for her signature verification when it came time to vote. “Because I’ve never signed a piece of paper saying ‘Sarah Taafe.’ It’s under my maiden name.” 

She was notified two days ago that her ballot was accepted.

Aubrey Roark from Greely also wanted to vote early to avoid problems. Most years, she votes on Election Day, but this year, she said, “I voted early because I wanted to make sure that there was time to count my ballot and if there were any issues I’d have time to resolve them.” Even if that meant missing out on that Election Day participation feeling.

But Denver resident Benjamin Skolozodra did get a rush from filling out and dropping off his ballot, even in mid-October. This is the 28-year-old’s first time voting in a presidential election. He said if there was ever a time to vote, it's 2020.

“I just felt like I had taken control of the situation, especially in a year where a lot of things have been out of my control in terms of where I’m working and the amount of people I’m able to see,” he said. “So, having that feeling, that sense of euphoria and just I’m back in control of something in my life at a time where that has been really hard this year.”

The people who have voted early have done their part, but like those who haven’t yet cast a ballot, they'll have to wait until Election Day — or maybe long afterward — to learn all the results.