Voter turnout on track to break odd-year record

The county is on track to tie or break a record in voter turnout for an odd-year election, according to data from the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

As of Wednesday, 21,902 ballots had been accepted by the office for this year’s elections. That’s 34 percent of all registered voters in the county, Clerk Sheila Reiner said.

That means the county is on a path to match or break 2005’s record 58 percent of registered voters casting ballots. Voter turnouts during odd-year elections traditionally lag those of even-year races.

That’s encouraging news to Reiner, who said she likes it when more people participate in elections.

“Historically, when an election tracks in its returns like this one tracks so closely to 2005, we should come close to that same amount of turnout,” Reiner said. “It’s encouraging in an odd-year mail-ballot election when there are school-district issues on the ballot to get that kind of a turnout. It means people are engaged in their local community in what’s going on.”

The turnout so far nearly ties that of the total turnout during the last odd-year election in 2009, when only 35 percent of voters cast ballots.

Unlike this year, when Colorado voters will decide whether they want to increase sales and income taxes to fund public schools, there was no statewide measure in 2009. That year, Mesa County voters also chose school board candidates and extended term limits for some local offices.

In 2005, however, Colorado voters approved Referendum C, a highly debated measure to suspend tax rebates for five years that exceeded revenue limits under the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights.

This year, voters also are being asked to suspend local TABOR limits for School District 51. That question, Referred Ballot Measure 3B, would allow the district to raise local property taxes to bring in an extra $12.5 million annually for the next six years.

Statewide, about 23 percent of all registered voters have cast a ballot so far in this year’s elections, according to figures compiled by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. That compares to the nearly 50 percent of Coloradans who voted in the November 2005 election.


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