Numbers from around the Roaring Fork Valley show slightly more than a third of registered voters cast a ballot on election day 2019, according to unofficial counts on Thursday afternoon.
All three counties also delivered among the lowest turnout rates in the state. Out of Colorado’s 64 counties, Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield all posted turnout percentages ranking in the bottom seven.
In all three of those counties, 2019 voter turnout was lower than it was in 2018, but higher than 2017.
“I think a lot of that is really driven by what is on the ballot,” said Eagle County clerk and recorder Regina O’Brien. “So if there’s something that’s highly contested or controversial, turnout always increases. And if there’s nothing that’s controversial, we see turnouts typically in the 30 percents.”
Last November’s ballots included races for governor and the U.S. house. This year’s election was mostly limited to municipal and county contests.
“Typically in a coordinated election year, the voter turnout is lower than a general election year and definitely lower than in a presidential year,” O'Brien said.
While 2019 turnout in each county was similar, Garfield County had the highest rate in the valley, with about 38% of registered voters casting a ballot. That number marks a drop from its 65% turnout in 2018, but a jump from its 2017 turnout of 33%.
Pitkin County had the second-highest rate in the area, posting a turnout of about 36%. While Pitkin showed the valley’s largest dropoff from its 2018 turnout of 64%, it also holds the title of largest increase from 2017 turnout. The county’s 2017 turnout was 25.6%.
Eagle County’s 2019 turnout was the lowest of the three by a slim margin, at about 35%. That represents a drop from the county’s 2018 turnout of 62%, but a slight bump from its 2017 turnout of 32%.
All three counties in the Roaring Fork Valley fell below Colorado’s statewide average of about 41%.
Each county’s total of registered voters includes both active voters and inactive voters. Active voters automatically receive ballots from the county. When a resident on the county’s voter roll is sent a ballot, and that ballot is returned on the grounds of an invalid address, that voter becomes listed as inactive until they submit an updated address to the county.
The totals and percentages included in this article are unofficial numbers issued by each county. A small number of ballots may be added to county totals in the eight days following the election, as time is allowed to “cure” ballots with no signature or a signature discrepancy, and as ballots from overseas and military voters arrive.
Final, official results are expected to be released in the middle of November.