It’s official: Colorado, Summit County saw record voting in 2018 election

The Colorado Secretary of State is reporting that Colorado saw the second highest turnout rate in the U.S. for the 2018 general election. At the same time, Summit County had more voters cast ballots in a midterm election than ever before.
Alli Langley /

With the count official, Colorado saw record voting totals in the 2018 general election and ranks second nationwide for voter turnout.

In all, 2.5 million Coloradans cast ballots counted by county clerks in the last election, putting the turnout rate for eligible voters at 63 percent statewide, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

Across the U.S., that leaves Colorado behind only Minnesota, which turned out 64.3 percent of its eligible voters. However, Minnesota also had two races for U.S. Senate up for grabs in November, which likely helped drive voters to the polls, with a special election to fill the seat vacated by former Sen. Al Franken after he was accused of sexual misconduct.

At the same time Colorado set a record for turnout, Summit County Clerk and Recorder Kathy Neel was confident the county saw more people cast ballots in the 2018 general election than for any other midterm election in the county’s history.

The high voter turnout rates in Colorado and Summit come as a reflection of the state’s mail-voting system, in which ballots are sent out to registered voters through the postal service. Over 95 percent of Coloradans who voted this year returned ballots they received through the mail, either by leaving them to the post office, dropping them off at 24-hour dropboxes or delivering them in person to an appropriate polling center.

In reality, there is more than one way to calculate turnout. Some look at the ballots cast against the number of active voters while others focus on the number of registered voters or even the total eligible voting population. Statewide, the statistics are as follows:

• Turnout among active voters was 75.7 percent

• Turnout among registered voters was 65.5 percent

• Turnout among the overall eligible voting population was 63 percent

In terms of the eligible voting population — which is considered the national standard — Colorado’s turnout was the second highest in the nation and well ahead of the national average of 50.1 percent.

In fact, Colorado has exceeded the national average for voter turnout throughout the last decade, and the state’s voter turnout this year was higher than it was for 32 other states during the 2016 presidential election. In Colorado, a higher percentage of women voted than men, and Democrats dominated the election with all races for statewide offices going blue.

Meanwhile, the Summit County Clerk and Recorder’s Office is reporting that 14,483 people voted locally in the 2018 election. That equates to a 71.7 percent turnout rate among Summit County’s 20,191 active voters and a 52.3 percent turnout rate among the county’s 27,670 registered voters.

Like the state, the vast majority of Summit voters took advantage of mail voting with just 1,292 out of almost 14,500 voters casting votes in person. The clerk’s office certified the election results Nov. 28 and sent its totals to the secretary of state, which reported back the complete figures statewide Friday.

Interestingly enough, the more people who vote in Colorado’s elections, the harder it becomes to get a citizens initiative on the ballot, according to the secretary of state. That’s because to get on the ballot a citizens initiative must secure valid signatures from at least 5 percent of the total number of votes cast for the secretary of state’s office during the previous general election.

With this year’s high turnout, the number of signatures required will go from 98,492 to 124,632 over the next four years.

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