For people, policy and Colorado politics
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We’ve been trying to get The Spot out the virtual door and for a day and a half now, but the political news just keeps happening or evolving.
Like Colorado’s election turnout. As Saja writes below, it’s at record levels, but we don’t know precisely where it will end up because the Associated Press estimates that 10% of votes haven’t been counted yet.
It has been an exciting week, and not only at the national level. Colorado voters did the near-unthinkable Tuesday when they agreed to get rid of the Gallagher Amendment, which had made residential property taxes among the lowest in the country. At the same time, though, asked if they wanted to pay less income tax, they responded with a “heck, yeah,” to that, too.
We have lots of deep dives coming your way, but below are a few nuggets to tide you over in the meantime.
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Have a question about the election? Submit it here and it’ll go straight to The Denver Post politics team.
Colorado’s wolf reintroduction initiative was headed for victory Thursday as opponents conceded defeat and backers hailed the precedent-setting shift of state voters directing their government for the first time to introduce an imperiled species. The outcome means “paws on the ground” by late 2023.
Capitol Diary • By Saja Hindi
Getting out the vote
There’s no doubt Colorado voters turned out in record numbers this election, with more than 3.3 million casting ballots — about 78.5% of all registered voters. In 2016, it was 74.3%.
It’s not quite the 80% or higher that state election director Judd Choate had anticipated — yet — but it does put Colorado in the top states for turnout among the voting eligible population, according to data from the United States Elections Project.
Among active registered voters, the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office reported turnout as 86.9%. In 2016, it was 86.7%.
“This year’s unprecedented voter turnout and political engagement gives me hope for the future, especially the next generation,” said Matt Lynn, spokesman for the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado.
The official ballot count is continuing with a couple of outstanding statehouse races and ballot issues, but unlike other states that are still counting ballots and trying to figure out Electoral College votes for president, Biden’s path to victory was clear. That’s, in part, credited to Colorado’s tried-and-true mail ballot system.
In the days leading up to Tuesday, Denver Post reporters spoke to Colorado voters about what drove them to the polls, and the majority cited the presidential election and the polarization around President Donald Trump. But Colorado’s ballot also had some drivers, too, including Proposition 115, the 22-week abortion ban that was defeated, and Proposition 113, the national popular vote, which passed.
Related: The latest Colorado election results.
Related: The Voter turnout charts.
Related: State Democratic lawmakers select their leaders.
#COpolitics news • By Justin Wingerter
Look west for Colorado’s new swing county
As the clock struck midnight Tuesday, just 17 votes stood between two Garfield County commission candidates. And in a different county commission race, a six-term incumbent was losing. Both of the Republicans ended up pulling off the wins, but by less than three percentage points each.
Republican Lauren Boebert lost in Garfield County, despite living there for half her life, owning a well-known restaurant there, having the endorsement of the county sheriff, and ultimately winning the 3rd Congressional District race. President Donald Trump also lost in the county, and Sen. Cory Gardner just barely won it.
There are long-term implications. Those county commission races were largely focused on oil and gas issues. The commission has been friendly to the industry; the challengers were not.
A microcosm, in other words, of Colorado’s energy politics.
ICYMI: Michael Bennet says he won’t be Joe Biden’s education secretary, if Biden wins.
Mile High Politics • By Conrad Swanson
A first step toward municipal broadband?
Voters in Denver were decisive in Tuesday’s election, but few issues produced as strong a result as Measure 2H, which had 83% support as of Thursday afternoon.
The measure, sponsored by City Councilman Paul Kashmann, would opt Denver out of a 2005 state law restricting governments from using tax dollars to build broadband networks. The move would allow the city to enter into a high-speed internet business, should city officials want to go in that direction.
While city officials haven’t said they want to launch a new city utility, now they have the option. Kashmann has said at the very least the move should give the city more leverage when negotiating with current broadband providers.
The result — though preliminary and unofficial — puts Denver in line with about 19 other municipalities that opted out of the same law in 2017. Those cities averaged an 83% approval margin, just like Denver.
Measure 2H drew no organized opposition, though internet providers said they opposed the move.
At the moment it appears they won’t have any new competition. City officials have said a full buildout of a municipal broadband system could take 10 years and cost $1 billion.
Never say never, though. Voters in Longmont and Fort Collins approved similar measures several years ago without a clear intention to start a municipal broadband company. But now both cities operate their own high-speed internet services that have been met with widespread acclaim.
More Denver election results
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