Colorado Springs election had 39 percent voter turnout

April 9, 2015 Updated: April 9, 2015 at 4:15 am
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photo - In the weeks leading up to the elections, volunteers with the Pikes Peak Equality Coalition and other organizations were canvassing neighborhoods in Colorado Springs to get out the vote. Courtney Stone, with the Independence Center, carries flyers reminding people about the election stopping at a home on March 30. (JERILEE BENNETT/THE GAZETTE)
In the weeks leading up to the elections, volunteers with the Pikes Peak Equality Coalition and other organizations were canvassing neighborhoods in Colorado Springs to get out the vote. Courtney Stone, with the Independence Center, carries flyers reminding people about the election stopping at a home on March 30. (JERILEE BENNETT/THE GAZETTE) 

Just over 39 percent of registered voters cast ballots for Tuesday's city election even though it was considered one of the more pivotal local elections in Colorado Springs history.

This was the second city election since voters changed the city charter and enacted a strong mayor form of government five years ago.

Since then, heated conflicts between the mayor and City Council gained more of the spotlight than most government actions - prompting some candidates this year to urge residents to vote, even if they voted for the candidates' opponents.

City Clerk Sarah Johnson and her staff sent ballots to 227,911 registered voters. About 88,966 ballots were returned to the city, officials estimated Tuesday night.

The 2011 mayoral and council election brought out nearly 84,000 voters for a turnout of more than 55 percent.

That exceeded the 2003 turnout of 81,719, which had been the highest since at least 1995.

"Ballots are still being counted, however the anticipated turnout of this election will be very close to the raw number of ballots cast in the April 2013 election," Johnson said by email. "The 2011 election had a historically high voter turnout due to the public interest in the change to a strong mayor form of government. Voter turnout has traditionally been in the 30 to 40 percent range."

The turnout in this election does not bode well for the mayoral runoff election, as runoffs traditionally draw fewer voters.

Tuesday's ballot did provide a dizzying array of choices, with 13 at-large council candidates, six mayoral candidates, a District 4 recall effort, a District 2 council vote and two proposed charter tweaks.

The May 19 runoff will decide only who will succeed Mayor Steve Bach.

Both candidates are well-known. John Suthers was the state attorney general for 10 years and earlier was director of the Department of Corrections, while Mary Lou Makepeace served on the council for 12 years and as Colorado Springs mayor for six years, from 1997 to 2003.

New City Council members will be sworn in April 21. The new mayor will be sworn in June 2.

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Contact Billie Stanton Anleu: 636-0371

Twitter @stantonanleu

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