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Coloradans Voted in Record Numbers in the 2020 Election

5280 Magazine  | Published on 11/17/2020
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Votes are still being counted nationwide (and in Colorado), but the Centennial State has already set a new record for voter turnout. As of this afternoon, 3,276,575 ballots have been returned—a turnout rate of 85 percent of active voters—and about 400,000 more than the 2016 election, according to data from Magellan Strategies.

“It’s pretty unprecedented,” says Ryan Winger, a data analyst at Magellan Strategies. “I haven’t gone through all the historical data, but it’s much higher turnout than we’ve had in the past 10 or 20 years.”

Winger says that Colorado is almost always in the top five states for voter turnout. Once all the ballots are tallied, though, the Centennial State could boast the highest turnout for the 2020 election, nationwide. “I think it’s between Colorado and Minnesota,” he says. “Most [state] elections are kind of battling it out for the highest turnout.”

Last night in his acceptance speech, former Governor and Senator-elect John Hickenlooper went even further, saying, “As it looks now, Colorado is going to have the highest voter turnout of any state, in any election in our nation’s history.” While Winger can’t yet verify Hickenlooper’s claim, he wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case. “It’s a very, very high turnout,” he says.

Magellan is planning on publishing one final report on Thursday with complete numbers for Colorado. But Winger has already noticed one important data point beyond total turnout: Republican vote totals are notably smaller than in 2016. In the latest report, unaffiliated voters turned in the most ballots (1,273,084), followed by Democrats (1,014,972), and Republicans (937,511).

“Despite very high turnout for Republicans, it’s a shrinking portion of the electorate in the state,” he adds. “That’s something that stands out—where you have a lot more Democrats and a lot more unaffiliated [voters] compared to 2016. In terms of raw votes, the Republican numbers are actually smaller.”

All of the unprecedented numbers will continue to be analyzed in the coming days and weeks. (The election results have yet to be officially certified.) But one thing is already for certain: Coloradans understand the importance of voting.