“The sooner you get it in, the sooner they stop calling you.” That’s what Kristyne Brenner, a resident of the Denver suburb of Greenwood Village, described as the only way to cease the incessant calling from the campaigns of Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and his Republican challenger, Rep. Cory Gardner. The already high-stakes Senate contest between Udall and Gardner has gained an added element of uncertainty because this year, every registered Colorado voter has received a ballot by mail. And to the chagrin of voters like Brenner, both campaigns are going all-out to make sure no one forgets to send in their ballot. Colorado’s nearly three million registered voters began receiving ballots on Oct. 14. Campaigns can track which voters have not yet returned their ballots, as well as who hasn’t registered at all. As a result, residents have experienced a significant amount of harassment from campaigns. This will likely continue through Nov. 4, since people can also register on Election Day and vote in person. (Voters can also register online and receive a ballot in the mail until Oct. 27.) The seemingly nonstop calls from campaigns have aggravated Brenner’s frustration with a race that she already considered too polarized and negative. “I’m pretty much over it,” she grumbled as she tossed back popcorn kernels while taking a break from shopping at Denver’s upscale Cherry Creek mall. Based on a number of interviews conducted by The Huffington Post, Brenner’s annoyance seems to be a universal emotion in the highly-targeted Denver suburbs.
Colorado is only the third state, after Washington and Oregon, to implement a universal mail-out system. Both of those states saw dramatically higher turnout after transitioning to all-mail elections, but the difference may not be as pronounced in Colorado, where 73.5 percent of voters turned out in 2010.
The all-mail option, along with the technological capabilities that campaigns have at their disposal, have changed the dynamics of the tight race between Udall and Gardner. Campaigns can track who has and who hasn’t sent their ballots back in real time, with data posted by each county.
“One of the nice things about these mail-in ballots is that they post pretty up-to-date records of who has submitted their ballot, so people who have received, but haven’t yet sent it in, campaigns have a list of those people,” Seth Masket, an associate professor of political science at the University of Denver, told HuffPost. “They can go knock on their door, give them the information they need, remind them about the postage and the due date.”