Thursday, June 9, 2011

Turnout Low in Denver Mayor’s Election

A few more voters turned in ballots in the runoff than in the May 3 Denver general election. But, the 42 percent turnout sets no record. In fact, there were more ballots in Federico Peña’s 1987 re-election runoff and Wellington Webb’s 1995 runoff.

Once again, more than a quarter of the ballots arrived the last 48 hours, although people received the mail-back forms more than two weeks ago.

One of the effects of all mail-back ballot elections is that the drama of a campaign’s traditional final weekend and Election Day activities is invisible. The bulk of campaign activities are in late direct mail and robo calls to targeted voters who have been identified as still holding a ballot.

Although runoffs have often attracted more voters than general elections, open seats sometimes have seen falloffs in turnout. In John Hickenlooper’s first election in 2006, 6,000 fewer people voted in the runoff. Similarly, in Webb’s 1991 inaugural election runoff, turnout dropped by 9,000.

Tough re-election campaigns by Wellington Webb in 1995 and Federico Peña in 1987 increased runoff turnout by 20,000 and 17,000 voters, respectively.

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