Election 2018News

Colorado voters set new record for midterm turnout

Author: Marianne Goodland - November 16, 2018 - Updated: November 26, 2018

petition signaturesA voter drops an election ballot off at the Pitkin County Administration box in Aspen, Colo., on Tuesday Nov. 6, 2018. (Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times via AP)

The deadline has finally come and gone for Colorado’s county clerks to finish counting ballots for the election that ended Nov. 6, and outgoing Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced Friday that Colorado voters set a new turnout record for a midterm election.

2,585,994 Coloradans voted in the midterm, or about 75.5 percent of active voters and 62.7 percent of those eligible to vote in Colorado. That compares to 2.09 million who voted in 2014, the last midterm.

(In 2016, the last presidential election year, 2,884,807 Coloradans voted.)

Unaffiliated voters turned out more than voters from the major political parties, with 880,275 voters or about 34 percent of all unaffiliated or independent voters. Just under 33 percent of all Democrats voted, at 851,006. Republican turnout was 31.5 percent, with 814,779 voters.

“I’m extremely proud of our staff, our county clerks and our voters,” Williams said. “We had a phenomenal election.”

Colorado trailed only Minnesota among states with the top turnout, based on the voting-eligible population. In addition, Colorado’s 62.7 percent turnout among eligible voters for a midterm election is better than what 31 states achieved in the 2016 presidential election, according to Judd Choate, the elections chief for the Secretary of State’s office.

With voting counts final, three races are headed to an automatic recount, all at the county level. Two of the recounts will be in La Plata County, home to Durango; the third will be in Las Animas County, which includes Trinidad.

However, while voting counts are final, results are not yet official. That will take place after Nov. 28, when county clerks are required to certify their results.

The 2018 election featured three state House races that were close on Election Night but as of Friday are well outside the margin for mandatory recounts.

In House District 27, in north Jefferson County, Democratic candidate Brianna Titone defeated Republican Vicki Pyne in a race to succeed Republican Rep. Lang Sias, who bowed out of his re-election race to join Republican Walker Stapleton on his gubernatorial ticket. Titone won with a margin of 439 votes.

In House District 47, which includes Otero, rural Pueblo and Fremont counties, Democrat Brianna Buentello defeated Republican Don Bendell by 321 votes.

In House District 50, based in Greeley, Democrat Rochelle Galindo defeated Republican Michael Thuener by 1,539 votes.

An automatic recount takes place when the margin of victory is 0.5 percent or less for the winning candidate. For House District 47, that margin would be about 81 votes, based on Buentello’s 16,324 votes. However, candidates who feel a recount might change their fortune can request (and pay for) one. The deadline for requesting a recount is Dec. 4.

In La Plata County, 23 votes separate the two top candidates for the county commission. Only nine votes separate the yes/no question on the Pine River Public Library tax increase issue. One of two school bond issues in Trinidad is currently losing by nine votes.

The 2018 election was the second midterm to be an all-mail ballot election. Williams’ office reported that 95 percent of Coloradans voted by mail. And of 120,949 Coloradans who voted in person, 91,119 chose to do so on Election Day.

About 11,000 votes weren’t counted due to problems with signatures that voters didn’t correct, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.