DENVER • Nearly 24% of Denver voters had mailed in their ballots by Monday afternoon as the mayoral runoff election and other races were set to close at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
But Denver voters are known for casting their votes on the last possible day, said Alton Dillard, spokesman for the Denver Elections Division.
The top draw Tuesday is the runoff between Mayor Michael Hancock, seeking a third term, and challenger Jamie Giellis, an urban planner.
“This isn’t LOW turnout, it’s DENVER Turnout,” Dillard quipped in an email.
That point was on dramatic display in the May 7 general election.
On the morning of May 6, only about 18% of registered voters had tendered their ballots, well below the average of 30% for a spring municipal election. That figure skyrocketed, though, as voters flocked to the polls. By the time all the votes were counted, the turnout topped out at 40%, well above average.
Some of that late voting might have been propelled by controversy over Initiative 300, which sought to repeal Denver’s urban camping ban and assert the right of homeless people to sleep on public property or in their cars. That referendum was soundly rejected by 82% of the voters.
The high turnout also could have been prompted by Initiative 301, to decriminalize possession of psilocybin mushrooms. That measure squeaked by with just over 2,000 votes, most of them coming in a surge of late voting.
Late voting was so prevalent in that election that nearly 41% of all ballots were cast on the election’s final day.
Whether such turnout recurs in Tuesday’s election is an open question.
The only referendum this time is Initiative 302, which would give Denver voters the right to approve any city funds being spent to pursue a bid for the Winter Olympics. That ballot question hasn’t generated the hot debate that marked both initiatives in the general election.
But the ballot also has runoff elections for five City Council seats and a citywide runoff for the clerk and recorder’s office — as well as the high-profile decision on who should be Denver’s mayor.