It’s Election Day, Colorado! Here’s what you need to know

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Vicky Sears drops a ballot in a dropbox outside of Greeley City Hall. Oct. 24, 2021.

With more than three-quarters of a million ballots already cast, today is the last day for Coloradans to vote in the election.

The voters will decide on three statewide initiatives — to raise marijuana sales taxes, decrease property tax rates, and give the legislature direct authority over more kinds of spending. Colorado’s constitution requires that ballot measures in off-year elections be limited to addressing state finances. 

It’s now far too late for voters to return their ballots by mail. But there are 405 secure drop boxes around the state for people to drop their ballots in. Additionally, counties have opened 145 Voter Service and Polling Centers, where people can vote in person. Colorado also allows people to register and vote at VSPCs through Election Day.

VSPCs and drop boxes close at 7 p.m. tonight, although anyone in line at that time will still be allowed to vote.

Clerks have already started scanning early ballots, so the first slice of results should come in shortly after the polls close.

As of noon Sunday, only 19 percent of active voters had returned their ballots.

Denver has a big ballot this year

When Denver resident Eli Polk dropped off his ballot Monday, he was surprised at how empty his local polling location was. 

“I would’ve thought that it would have gone the other direction — in terms of more people paying attention and participating at the local levels as opposed to the national level,” he said.

Denver’s complicated ballot may be partially to blame.

Voters in the city are deciding on 13 different measures, plus school board races. Some may have ended up waiting longer to vote in order to have time to research their choices.

Mesa County is challenged by controversy and misinformation

In Mesa County, treasurer Sheila Reiner, who was appointed to help with the election after a judge barred clerk Tina Peters from overseeing it, said some of the low early turnout numbers locally might be due to misinformation. 

She said she keeps hearing from people who believe they have to vote in person in order to ensure their ballot is counted. 

“And that's not true. We count all eligible ballots as soon as they are verified as eligible to be cast,” Reiner said.

By Monday, Reiner said voting had rebounded to close to 2019 levels.

A closer look at the ballot returns

Of the ballots that have come in through the weekend, 34.5 percent have come from unaffiliated voters, 33 percent from Republicans, and 31.5 percent from Democrats.

That’s a change from the past two off-year elections, when Republicans turned in their early ballots at a much higher rate than the other two groups.

As of Sunday, 55,051 fewer Republicans had voted, compared to this point in 2019. By comparison, the Democratic fall off from 2019 is only 1560 votes at this point.

The electorate so far also skews to the older side, with the majority of ballots cast by voters age 55 and older.

CPR’s Stina Sieg and Matt Bloom contributed to this story.