Colorado turnout remains down as Denver metro counties lag behind 2018 returns

By: - November 7, 2022 3:57 pm

Douglas County election workers process primary election ballots in Castle Rock on June 28, 2022. (Carl Payne for Colorado Newsline)

One day before Election Day, ballot return data compiled by state officials continues to show Colorado’s voter turnout down significantly from the last midterm election in 2018.

As of Sunday evening, 1,339,399 Coloradans had cast a vote in the 2022 election, according to data released Monday by the Colorado secretary of state’s office. Nearly 99% of those votes were cast via mail ballot, while the remainder — slightly less than 15,000 ballots — were cast in person.

Barring a last-minute surge, the numbers put Colorado on track for its most significant turnout drop since the adoption of mail ballots in 2014. Statewide turnout stood at 35% on Monday, down from nearly 45% at the same point four years ago.


Over 38% of ballots returned so far in 2022 are from voters affiliated with no political party, a substantial jump from 2018, when unaffiliated voters accounted for only 30.8% of returns. Both Democrats and Republicans have returned fewer ballots this year compared to 2018, in both absolute numbers and as a proportion of total votes cast.

Fewer than 390,000 registered Republicans had returned their ballots as of Monday, a sharp drop from the 515,000 ballots that GOP voters had returned at the same point in 2018. That accounts for just 29% of total ballot returns, down from 34% four years ago.

Across the country, Republican leaders — many of whom have spread baseless conspiracy theories alleging widespread election fraud — have urged their voters to cast their ballots in person on Election Day.

In a difficult midterm election for President Joe Biden’s party, however, turnout among Democrats also appears to be down significantly from 2018. The largest declines in early ballot returns this year have come in Jefferson, Denver and Arapahoe counties, where voters have returned a combined 98,000 fewer ballots than at the same point four years ago.

Ballots can no longer be returned through the mail, but they can be dropped off at a drop box or a voter service and polling location until 7 p.m. on Election Day. Voters can also visit a polling location to register and vote in person. Other useful election information can be found at the secretary of state’s “Go Vote Colorado” page.


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Chase Woodruff
Chase Woodruff

Reporter Chase Woodruff covers the environment, the economy and other stories for Colorado Newsline.