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March 24, 2023 11:00 AM UTC

Denver Ballot Returns are Pretty Miserable

  • by: Colorado Pols

The race for Denver Mayor is coming down to its final week, but voters are still holding onto their ballots like a lottery ticket that they aren’t totally sure isn’t a winner.

Election Day is April 4, which means the last day to safely drop a completed ballot in the mail is Wednesday of next week. As of today, only about 5% of ballots in Denver have been returned by voters.

Yes, five percent. As in, more than four but less than six.


Denver ballot returns as of March 24, 2023


The last time Denver had an open race for Mayor was in May 2011, when Chris Romer (28% of the vote) and Michael Hancock (27%) earned enough votes to make the runoff election. James Mejia finished in third place with 25.7% of the vote.

In May 2011, voter turnout reached a little more than 38% of all eligible voters. This was before Colorado instituted all-mail balloting, of course; in theory, making it easier to vote in 2023 should increase voter turnout [*Denver did start all-mail balloting for the first time in 2011]. On the other hand, a ballot that includes 16 candidates for Mayor does make things a bit more complicated when you’re trying to make a decision as a voter.

If you are a Denver voter and you still haven’t cast a ballot — and according to the data, that’s pretty much everyone — you can CLICK HERE for more information on how to vote.


9 thoughts on “Denver Ballot Returns are Pretty Miserable

  1. My wife and I still have our ballots.  And it is because we are having a hard time deciding who to vote for in the mayoral and city council-at-large races.  But there is no way we won't turn ours in.

  2. We'll drop ours off at the train station, probably Sunday. I'm waiting to see which candidates say or do something egregiously stupid in the last few days. It always happens.

  3. Curious how Denver's election will go, but I haven't paid much attention beyond headlines. Here in Conservaderp Springs, we have our own nutters running for Mayor. There are some literal insurrectionists and worse running, it's a bit frightening.

    1. The only thin silver lining for Colorado Springs in any forseeable future will be if John Suthers decides to run for Lamborn's seat.

  4. I still couldn't tell anyone who I'd vote for in the Denver Mayor's race, that is if I could actually vote. Not surprised in the tiniest by the current 5% turnout.

  5. It's not uncommon that turnout in municipal elections is low. I don't think I'm at all surprised by the poor voter participation. And it's somewhat understandable.

    Despite the usual rhetoric about "government close to the people," what does city government actually do that makes a difference in people's lives? OK, roads, cops, rec centers, etc. But every mayor does that stuff, so what's the difference if this person or that wins?

    And no small number of decisions of the average local government are at least heavily influenced by the professional bureaucracy of the city, which does not care about election results.

    Denver has a "strong mayor" system of government, so the mayorship matters more than it does in the suburban cities, but how many voters know that?

    And how much has really gotten done in Denver in, I don't know, decades? 

    And, given Denver's futility at dealing with homelessness in particular, why should voters believe that any potential mayor is going to make more of a difference than any other?


    1. "And, given Denver's futility at dealing with homelessness … more of a difference than any other?"
      I voted. I always vote. Every possible time since 1968.
      But, even I, a political junkie, cannot separate these candidates in my tiny brain.

  6. Take a look at the return pattern in 2019, AFTER mail balloting began.  The first-round votes can be found here.  With a week and 2 days left, 36,899 ballots had been cast. That's WITH an 8-year incumbent and 9 other candidates.

    In 2023, the first round votes to date are here.  With a week and 2 days left, 25,310 have been cast.  With no incumbent, 17 names on the ballot (1 dropped), and 5 or 6 certified write-in candidates. 

    My ballot is still sitting on my desk, as I waffle among five or six I consider competent enough to be a credible mayor. 



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