16 October 2006

There Isn't A Voting Crisis In Denver

How many people will vote in the November 2006 election at the polls?

Answer: About 90,000, which is about 70% of the number who did so in 2004.

Why do I think so?

Turnout is always higher in Presidential election years. In 2004, 128,930 people voted at the polls on election day in Denver. In 2000, it was 111,907 people. This year, it will be less than that, because it is not a Presidential election year.

In 2002, the last state general election, about 89,462 people voted at the polls on election day. In 1998, it was 124,348, but that was at a time when far fewer people engaged in early or abssentee voting. If anything 90,000 is a high estimate.

How many Denver voters voted early or absentee in recent past elections?

In 2004 there were 66,190 absentee votes and 37,606 early votes cast.

In 2002 there were 53,533 absentee votes and 8,314 early votes cast.

In 2000 there were 66,314 absentee votes and 20,244 early votes cast.

In 1998 there were 23,243 absentee votes and 16,404 early votes cast.

How many Denver voters will vote absentee in the November 2006 elections?

At least 54,000 absentee ballots have already been requested. This is in line with figures from the 2002 election, and far more than in the 1998 election.

How many precincts were there in 2004 in Denver?

Answer: There were 420 precincts at about 283 locations.

How many vote centers are there in 2006 in Denver?

Answer: 55.

How many voting machines were there in 2004?

Answer: Denver had 1,100 voting machines before its recent purchase of 240 new ones from Sequoia.

How many voting machines will be used in 2006?

Answer: The Denver Election Commission has stated that it intends to deploy all of its voting machines on election day, November 7, due to the long ballot. This would presumably include both 1,100 old machines and 240 new machines for a total of 1,340 machines.

Will there be fewer voting machines in 2006 than there were in 2004?

Answer: No.

Will there be fewer voters in 2006 at the polls on election day than there were in 2004?

Answer: Yes.

How many votes were cast per voting machine in 2004?

Answer: 117.

How many votes per machine will have to be cast in 2006?

Answer: 67, about 57% of the number of voters per machine as in 2004.

How many ballot issues were there on the ballot in 2004?

Answer: 9, about 56% of the number of ballot issues in 2006.

How many ballot issues are there on the ballot in Denver in 2006?

Answer: 16.

Denver's Ballot Is Relatively Short

Denver voters have a shorter ballot than almost any other place in the state.

While every voter in the state votes in five statewide candidate races and a Congressional race (in Denver it is between the Democrat Diana DeGette and a Green Party candidate) and on 14 ballot issues, in Denver some voters will face only two more ballot issues and no other contested candidate races, while no one will face more than two other contested candidate races.

Unlike other Colorado counties, Denver holds its local elections in May. So, Denver voters don't have to agonize over races for county commissioner, county treasurer, county assessor, clerk and recorder, coroner, county surveyor or the like, as most Colorado voters do.

None of Denver's RTD districts have contested races.

Denver has no contested races for state school board or for its CU Regents district representative this year (although there is a statewide at large race for CU Regent at issue this year).

Only three of Denver's nine state house races are contested. While Denver voters are in several state senate districts, only one has a contested race this year.

Unlike many area voters, Denver voters don't face any school district tax or bond issues.

There are twenty-one judicial retention election questions on the ballot this year in Denver, but almost no one who hasn't made up their minds in advance, considers those decisions at length in the ballot box. Most people vote either yes for all, or no for all.

The only race in Denver where a write in candidate has declared is the Governor's race, where few people are likely to choose a write in candidate. So write in votes are unlikely to slow down voting.


There is nothing wrong with voting early or absentee. We also know that the Postal Service will deliver your ballot even if it doesn't have enough postage.

But, the much heralded crisis Denver is expected to experience in 2006 isn't going to happen. Everyone went nuts for Y2K and nothing bad happened then either. It is natural to be suspicious of new technologies, and the kinks aren't all worked out perfectly. But, there is no reason to suspect massive lines on election day that will deprive people of their right to vote.

If the system needs to handle 67 votes in a day, and 90% of the votes are cast in the high traffic first and last two hours of the election, the machines need to process only one voter every 4 minutes. While state law allows for up to 10 minutes per voter, historical precedent is that people don't actually take anything close to that long to vote. Most voters make up their minds before they get into the ballot booth, either before they come to the polls or while waiting in line. Actually pushing the buttons doesn't take long at all.

1 comment:

Sotosoroto said...

Up here in Washington, voting absentee is a good way to disenfranchise yourself. Especially in King County, where whole stacks of absentee ballots go missing or are remarked by county officials.

And then there are those who abuse the system and vote twice (sometimes even from the same address!), and the county doesn't even notice it.

Give me a scantron any day.