Even as voter turnout declined across the U.S. for the second presidential contest in a row, Coloradans cast ballots in huge numbers, bucking the national trend and reinforcing the state’s position as a leader in voter participation. But for all the talk of a dramatic shift in Colorado’s elections under the state’s expanded mail-in balloting system, the final numbers in 2016 are going to look a lot like that of presidential elections past. More people voted by mail in Colorado than ever in 2016 — upward of 2.6 million of the 2.8 million ballots cast, according to the latest unofficial tallies from the Secretary of State’s Office. But overall turnout is expected to be slightly above that of 2012, and slightly below 2008. “I think, frankly, there’s no evidence to suggest that the change made any difference in turnout,” said Judd Choate, the state director of elections.
Four years ago, 70.6 percent of the state’s voting-eligible population cast a ballot, according to the United States Election Project. That was tied with Iowa for third-highest in the U.S. As of Friday’s tallies, turnout this year would be 71.3 percent using the same measure — once again, third in the U.S. That number could go up or down as counties continue their ballot verification process.
… The experience in other mail-in ballot states seems to mirror that of Colorado. According to researchers, mail-in ballot laws “don’t end up having a huge impact on voter turnout,” said Seth Masket, a political scientist at the University of Denver. “They make voting a little easier, largely for people who were going to vote anyway.”
… Some 93 percent of voters this year voted by mail statewide, leaving just 7 percent who voted in person on Nov. 8, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. In 2012, 28 percent voted in person, according to Lynn Bartels, spokeswoman for the Secretary of State.