Back in April when a new election law was making its way through the legislature, we expressed doubts about whether there’d be time by Election Day to prepare the underlying technology. So we’ve got to hand it to all involved in last week’s election: It went as smoothly as anyone could have hoped, even with the bells and whistles of same-day registration, universal mail ballots and ballots sent to inactive voters. Next year’s midterm election, which features contests for U.S. Senate and governor, will of course attract more voters and pose a bigger challenge. But nothing in this year’s experience suggests the system won’t be ready. It is now remarkably easy to vote in Colorado — even easier than in 2012, when it was already a breeze. And that’s a good thing, even if the mechanism — paper ballots and stamps — seems remarkably retro in this golden age of electronic communication.
Whether pain-free voting produces the desired effect of boosting turnout, however, remains to be seen. Logic suggests it should help at least a little, and the latest turnout was impressive for an odd-year election, with 319,225 more ballots cast than in 2011.
But any conclusion is premature. As Secretary of State Scott Gessler has pointed out, turnout also spiked in Denver and Pueblo, which had already been mailing ballots to inactive voters.