It’s municipal Election Day in Denver.
By 7 p.m. Denverites will have at least a slightly better idea of who will be the city’s next mayor, what the next City Council will look like and if housing and other development will be allowed on the Park Hill golf course property.
That doesn’t mean voters will have all the answers tonight. Many races could be too close to call including the mayor’s contest in which 16 candidates are vying to finish in the two top places and make it to a runoff election that would conclude on June 6.
As of midday Monday, just 15.6% of ballots sent out in the election had been returned. If turnout is 40% among registered voters, as it was in the city’s last municipal election in 2019, that means Denver election officials will have a lot of ballots to process today.
The first batch of unofficial results will be released at 7 p.m., according to the city’s election division. Counting is unlikely to be finished tonight, according to Lucille Wenegieme, spokeswoman for the Denver Office of the Clerk and Recorder.
“(We) usually have a midnight hard stop to let election judges get some sleep and will resume counting Wednesday morning,” she said.
Denver voters’ propensity for voting later led to ballots being counted for more than a week in the November 2022 election. Roughly half of all votes were cast on Election Day or the day before in that contest.
The clerk’s office over the weekend highlighted that early turnout in the 2023 election was lagging behind the city’s last three municipal elections. As of Friday, 13.2% of active voters had returned their ballots. At the same point in 2019, that total was 18%. In 2015, it was 16.8% and in 2011 it was 20.3%.
In a news release accompanying those figures, Clerk Paul López cautioned that results would only come as fast as ballots do.
“We want a high turnout and participation, but if you wait to cast your ballot until Tuesday, you’ll be waiting past Tuesday night for results,” López said.
Here are the races that will be decided in this election:
•Denver Mayor: An unprecedented number of candidates are vying for the seat in the city’s first open race for mayor since Michael Hancock was elected the first of his three terms in 2011. Kwame Spearman’s name appears on ballots but he dropped out of the race a few weeks ago. If none of the 16 remaining candidates earns more than 50% of the vote in this round, the top two finishers will be on the ballot for a runoff election in two months.
• All 11 City Council district seats are up for election this year including three — districts 4, 7 and 8 — where there is no incumbent on the ballot. Three incumbents, Jamie Torres, Paul Kashmann and Stacie Gilmore, are running unopposed. They represent districts 3, 6 and 11 respectively. In districts with more than two candidates, runoff races are possible if no one gets a majority of the votes cast in Round 1 just like the mayor’s election. That’s possible in districts 7, 8, 9 and 10.
• There is no need for a runoff to determine who will win the council’s two at-large seats. The top two vote-getters in the candidate field win those regardless of if they get 55% of the vote or 15%. Denverites have nine options to choose from when handing out their two votes in that race.
• City Auditor: López isn’t facing a challenger this year but his counterpart in the city auditor’s office is. Erik Clarke is competing with incumbent Tim O’Brien in that race.
• There are three measures on the ballot, all put there by City Council referrals.
Referred Question 2M seeks to update the city’s process for hearing appeals and variance requests related to the city’s zoning code.
Referred Question 2N seeks to clarify rules around rezoning protest petitions and bar property owners in neighboring cities from signing them.
Perhaps the most controversial item on the ballot is Referred Question 2O. The ask is simple: Do voters support lifting the city-owned conservation easement on the 155-acre Park Hill golf course land to allow for development including housing, commercial space and a city park there or do they want the easement to stay in place, barring any new commercial or housing development and maintaining the status quo?
The city has 43 ballot drop boxes, the locations of which can be found by visiting DenverVotes.org/Voterinfo or by calling 720-913-8683.
Denver residents can drop off their ballots, get a new ballot if theirs has been lost or damaged and even register to vote and cast a ballot on the spot today at one of the city’s 11 voter service and polling centers.
Here are those locations:
- Barnum Recreation Center, 360 N. Hooker St.
- Calvary Baptist Church of Denver, 6500 E. Girard Ave.
- Christ Church United Methodist, 690 N. Colorado Blvd.
- Harvard Gulch Recreation Center, 550 E. Iliff Ave.
- Harvey Park Recreation Center, 2120 S. Tennyson Way
- Hiawatha Davis Jr. Recreation Center, 3334 N. Holly St.
- Highland Recreation Center, 2880 N. Osceola St.
- Montbello Recreation Center, 15555 E. 53rd Ave.
- Swansea Recreation Center, 2650 E. 49th Ave.
The city’s mobile voting center will be parked at Emily Griffith Technical College, 1860 N. Lincoln St., today.
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