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Election 2020

Colorado election 2020: Dispatches from the polls, analysis and more

Colorado voters are deciding on the presidential race, a major U.S. Senate contest and 11 statewide ballot measures. The results start pouring in at 7 p.m. when polls close.

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The Colorado Sun is posting live dispatches from the polls, exclusive analysis on the numbers and breaking stories about the results in major races. Find results in the top races and the latest on the 2020 election turnout. And check back throughout Election Day for updates.


Lauren Boebert beats Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District

6:49 AM | Nov 4, 2020 🔗
Lauren Boebert, Republican candidate for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, speaks during a get-out-the-vote-rally at the Grand Junction Motor Speedway in Grand Junction, Colo., Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. (Barton Glasser, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Republican Lauren Boebert declared victory and Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush conceded just after midnight Wednesday in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District race.

Boebert held a lead at 51% to 46% over Mitsch Bush in the massive district, which spans the Western Slope and reaches around to Pueblo at 1 a.m. the morning after Election Day, according to preliminary results.

The candidates were split by more than 22,000 votes and most forecasters considered the race was still too close to call.

UPDATE: At 7:20 a.m. on Wednesday The Associated Press called the race in Boebert’s favor.

>> Full story here. 


The results are (mostly) in — and Democrats had a good night in Colorado

11:38 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Democrats won the two races at the top of the ballot — for president and U.S. Senate — in Colorado by significant margins.

The party enjoyed other major victories but conservatives celebrated their own wins.

Democrats look poised to pick up at least one seat in the state Senate, and the party will confidently hold a 41-seat majority in the state House that could still grow. At least three races were too close to call.

The repeal of the Gallagher Amendment, apparent affirmation of the national popular vote law, rejection of abortion restrictions, support for a paid family and medical leave program, and gaining a majority on the University of Colorado Board of Regents also gave Democrats something to cheer.

Republicans put their hopes in a 3rd Congressional District victory by Lauren Boebert, who declared victory even with the race margin too narrow for a definitive verdict. And two ballot measures to lower the state’s income tax and impose new limits on fees appeared headed in their direction.

Check out more of the live coverage from election day in Colorado below and check coloradosun.com for even more coverage in the coming days.

— John Frank, Staff writer


One of the closest races is the 18th Judicial District attorney’s contest — and Democrats are ahead

11:15 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Amy Padden, the Democratic district attorney candidate in the 18th Judicial District, is leading Republican John Kellner by 0.3%. That’s 1,614 votes out of roughly 529,000 cast at 11 p.m.

It’s a remarkable result for a district that leans Republican and didn’t even field a Democratic challenger to term-limited incumbent George Brauchler in 2016. 

Kellner had not conceded Tuesday night. The race is just outside the margin for an automatic recount. Padden is optimistic.

“We anticipate that the margin is going to get wider as the remaining voters are counted,” she said. “We feel confident but no one has called the race.”

–John Frank, Staff writer


Supporters declare narrow victory on Proposition 117; opponents say it’s too close to call

10:53 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

In early returns Tuesday evening, Colorado voters were narrowly split on whether to impose new TABOR-like restrictions on their government officials, requiring lawmakers to seek voter approval for the creation of certain fee-based programs.

With 82% reporting just after 10:30 p.m., voters narrowly favored Proposition 117, 52% to 48%.

The measure, supported by conservative groups, would require voter approval for the creation of certain fee-funded state government programs known as “enterprises.” Common examples include water utilities, parks or toll roads that are funded primarily by user fees rather than taxes.

Backers of the measure say Proposition 117 is needed to rein in state lawmakers, who, since the passage of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, have increasingly turned to fees to fund government services. Fees have multiplied at least in part because — unlike taxes — they aren’t governed by TABOR’s voter-consent requirements.

Conservatives declared triumph early Tuesday evening, calling it a victory for Colorado taxpayers.

“Coloradans are clearly tired of the legislature using fees as a way of getting around asking voters for approval when they want to grow spending, and they doubled down on their support for TABOR,” Michael Fields, the executive director of Colorado Rising State Action, said in a statement.

The Colorado Capitol on Wednesday, July 29, 2020. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Opponents say the proposition would further tie the hands of Colorado lawmakers, who are already subject to some of the most restrictive fiscal policies in the country. But they stopped short of conceding defeat with close to 18% of the vote still outstanding.

“While it’s still too close to call as of 10:30 p.m. on election night, if the current result holds, the passage of Prop 117 will be an unfortunate setback for Colorado,” Carol Hedges, the executive director of the Colorado Fiscal Institute, said in a statement. “This measure will create even more barriers to overcome: More confusing and inaccessible language on our ballots, fewer tools for lawmakers to do their jobs and provide the services we need, and even more fiscal pressure on the state when we can least afford it.”

Importantly, Proposition 117 wouldn’t apply to existing enterprise programs. As for new enterprises, it would only apply to those that generate at least $100 million over their first five years, or an average of $20 million annually.

— Brian Eason, Colorado Sun correspondent


Colorado voters approve Proposition 116, cutting state income taxes by $150 million

10:41 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Colorado voters approved a small, across-the-board cut to the state’s income tax rate, permanently reducing taxes for individuals and businesses, but adding to the state’s budget challenges.

With 82% of the vote reported, 56.6% of voters were in support of Proposition 116.

The measure reduces the state income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55%, providing Coloradans some minor financial relief amid the ongoing economic crisis. That represents a 1.7% cut, or a savings of about $37 annually for the average taxpayer. The savings for someone with $25,000 in taxable income would be about $20 while those with taxable income of $1 million would save $800.

“It’s great news that every single Coloradan will be keeping a little bit more of the money they work hard for, especially while we’re still struggling with the economic impacts of the pandemic,” Michael Fields, executive director of the conservative group Colorado Rising State Action, said in a statement.

The vote was a resounding win for its conservative supporters, as well as Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, who has consistently bucked his own party to cheer on Republican efforts to reduce taxes. In the run-up to the election, top Democratic lawmakers repeatedly warned against the fiscal repercussions: small tax cuts for everyone add up to big money for the state’s coffers. By one legislative estimate, it could reduce state revenue by more than $150 million a year at a time when state budget writers are already grappling with huge shortfalls due to the pandemic.

Scott Wasserman, president of the liberal Bell Policy Center, which opposed the ballot measure, characterized its passage as a mixed result.

“The 97% of Coloradans who deserve a tax cut are going to get one tonight,” Wasserman said in an interview. “The problem is that it also comes with a bonus for the top 3% of earners in the state. And we know that they can and should pay their fair share.”

For the left, which has long sought additional revenue to boost funding to things like K-12 schools and higher education, the vote is yet another in a steady stream of ballot box defeats on tax questions in recent years, reinforcing Colorado’s fiscally conservative streak, even as Democrats rack up electoral victories.

— Brian Eason, Colorado Sun contributor


Colorado voters repeal Gallagher Amendment

10:27 PM | Nov 3, 2020🔗

Colorado voters approved Amendment B and jettisoned the Gallagher Amendment in a landslide, repealing the landmark constitutional provision that has delivered more than $35 billion in property tax cuts to homeowners and fundamentally reshaped government spending over the last four decades.

The Associated Press called the race after 10 p.m., with 57.8% in favor of repeal and 42.4% opposed.

The results represent a major victory for top state lawmakers, business leaders and liberal fiscal reform advocates who have been trying for years to get voters to relax some of Colorado’s unique constitutional restraints on taxes and public spending.

The decision prevents an estimated $491 million in cuts to school districts and another $204 million in cuts to county governments next year, amid a financial crisis that could get worse as coronavirus cases spike across the state. Those figures don’t even include the potential impact on cities or to special districts that provide essential services like fire protection and health care if Gallagher remained in place.

In exchange, voters will be giving up an estimated 18% residential property tax cut that was expected to take effect in 2021. For homeowners and renters that means forgoing some financial relief even as the pandemic and economic crisis enters a new phase.

Gallagher’s costs and benefits — unequally distributed across the state — have carved out a complicated legacy since its passage in 1982. On the one hand, it has largely delivered on its core promise of property tax relief, saving homeowners an estimated $2.8 billion last year alone, according to a state fiscal analysis. But its downsides have rippled throughout the state in uneven ways, squeezing local services in rural areas and shifting higher taxes onto businesses in some communities when residential taxes fall.

“I think it shows that Coloradans understand that there’s a problem that needs to be fixed, and they wanted better-funded communities,” said Scott Wasserman, president of the Bell Policy Center, a progressive think tank. “I think it shows that when we put funding and legislative support behind a measure like this, it can actually get support.”

There’s no doubt the well-funded campaign had an effect — particularly with an issue as complicated as Gallagher, after prior fiscal reform efforts in the state fizzled. Supporters spent $6.9 million in support of the repeal effort, compared with less than $722,000 by the opposition. The last time voters were asked to repeal Gallagher, they rejected the proposal in a landslide.

Gallagher limits residential taxes to 45% of the statewide property tax base. So when home values rise faster than those of businesses, that can trigger tax cuts for homeowners, helping to offset the rising cost of housing. But because of the sheer volume of people who live on the Front Range, the housing market in the broader Denver area has historically dictated the property taxes people pay all over the state, cutting tax revenue even in parts of rural Colorado that didn’t have much to begin with.

Gallagher’s repeal effectively freezes current tax assessment rates in statute. Residential assessment rates will no longer automatically drop when economic conditions dictate, meaning many homeowners will see their taxes go up when property values are reassessed in 2021.

— Brian Eason, Colorado Sun correspondent


Colorado’s voter turnout creeps closer to record territory

10:22 PM | Nov 3, 2020🔗
Election officials process ballots for the 2020 election at the Douglas County clerk’s office in Castle Rock on Oct. 30, 2020. (Kevin Mohatt, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Colorado is potentially approaching a national record for voter turnout.

As of about 9 p.m. Tuesday, the Secretary of State’s office said at least 3,203,632 ballots have been cast across the state. That’s well above 2016, when about 2.9 million ballots were cast — though the state has added more than 349,000 voters since 2016.

But it’s the turnout percentage that’s flirting with history. Calculated as a percentage of the estimated voting-eligible population — meaning the percentage of anybody in Colorado who could legally cast a ballot if they wanted to — the turnout now stands at 74%.

Judd Choate, Colorado’s director of elections, has said that no state has ever surpassed 80% turnout among the voting-eligible population. As ballots continue to be processed into the night, Colorado’s numbers will continue to rise, though it’s unclear by how much.

Calculated as a percentage of registered voters, the state’s 2020 turnout percentage is currently 76.5%, beating 2016’s rate by a couple of percentage points.

Follow the latest turnout numbers in our vote tracker.

— John Ingold, Staff writer


Two state Senate contests go down to the wire

10:16 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Republican Sen. Bob Rankin trailed Democratic challenger Karl Hanlon by less than 1 percentage point, about 750 votes, in Senate District 8 in western Colorado.

In Adams County, GOP Sen. Kevin Priola led Democrat Paula Dickerson by less than 2 percentage points — a little more than 1,000 votes — in another closely watched Senate race.

Democrats will have at least a 20-15 majority, and possibly more depending on the outcome of the two races.

— Sandra Fish, Sun correspondent


Returns show Denver voters favor 2A to create a climate tax

10:17 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Denver voters favored a nation-leading climate change tax 64.4% to 35.6% as of 10 p.m.

Denver’s idea is different because ballot measure 2A would use the proceeds from a dedicated sales tax increase to raise roughly $40 million a year to invest in renewable energy, clean transportation, energy efficiency and more. 

Ballot measure 2A would increase the sales tax to 8.56% from 8.31% to support green projects in the city. It was put on the ballot by Denver City Council, which pledged to invest the bulk of the funds directly into the city. 

If voters approve the tax, it could serve as a model for policy options in other cities. “We truly are pioneering this,” said Councilman Jolon Clark, who sponsored the measure to get the issue on the ballot. Clark said two other municipalities have reached out to Denver to talk about implementing similar proposals.

— Evan Ochsner, Staff writer


Paid family leave passes

Voters accomplished Tuesday what Colorado Democrats could not for the past six years at the state legislature: a statewide paid-leave program for workers who want time off to have a baby or care for a sick loved one.

The ballot measure passed by 57% to 43%, according to unofficial returns. The Associated Press called the race at 9:53 p.m. 

>> Full story here. 

Jennifer Brown, Staff writer


Colorado measure to ban abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy fails

Proposition 115, which would have banned abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy, was rejected, the Associated Press reported at 9:42 p.m.

>> Full story here.


Democrats win GOP seat in state House, but may lose one in Pueblo

10:00 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗
The Senate Chamber at the Colorado State Capitol on Jan. 8, 2020. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Disabled veteran David Ortiz led incumbent GOP Rep. Richard Champion 56.5% to 43.5%, while some other freshman Democratic House members appeared headed to hold on to their seats.

Ortiz outraised and outspent Champion, who was appointed to the Arapahoe County seat in Littleton earlier this year. The Republican received little support from outside spenders supporting House candidates.

Rep. Lisa Cutter had 53% of the vote to Republican Don Rosier’s 47% in a Jefferson County contest that drew heavy outside spending.

Rep. Tom Sullivan easily won reelection with 57% of the vote against Republican Claire Cornell’s 43%. Sullivan, whose son died in the 2012 Aurora theater shootings, flipped the suburban seat two years ago campaigning on a gun-control platform.

And Rep. Brianne Titone led Republican Vicki Pyne 49% to 44% in her Arvada district.

GOP first-term Rep. Colin Larson, the only Republican lawmaker in Jefferson County, held a 51% to 46% lead over Democrat Mary Parker in District 22. Larson won a brutal primary in June.

But Democratic Rep. Bri Buentello trailed Republican Stephanie Luck in Pueblo’s House District 47. Luck had a lead of less than 2,000 votes, with plenty remaining to be counted at 9:45.

— Sandra Fish, Sun correspondent


Colorado elects state’s first-ever Muslim lawmaker

10:02 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗
Iman Jodeh, who hopes to become the first Muslim person to serve as a state lawmaker, representing House District 41, stands for a portrait in her Aurora neighborhood park on Oct. 22, 2020. (Eli Imadali, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Aurora-area voters elected Iman Jodeh to represent them in Colorado’s 41st Congressional District in the state’s House of Representatives. Jodeh is the first Muslim lawmaker in the state’s history. 

In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, there were just three state legislators in the nation who were known to identify as Muslim, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. It’s unknown how many there are now.

Jodeh, a community activist and educator, is replacing Democratic state Rep. Jovan Melton, who is term limited and last won reelection in 2018 with a nearly 30-point cushion.

— Evan Ochsner, Staff writer


Colorado’s vote on the national popular vote is a first. Right now, it’s still too close to call.

9:16 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Colorado voters are leaning toward joining the national popular vote movement to change the way the U.S. picks presidents. But the supporters say it’s too early to declare victory.

Read the full story.

— Evan Ochsner, Staff writer


Voters approve Proposition EE, the tobacco tax hike that will fund preschool slots

8:54 PM | Nov 3, 2020🔗

Coloradans who use cigarettes and other products that contain nicotine will soon start paying more in taxes, with preliminary election results showing overwhelming voter approval of Proposition EE.

Early results show nearly 69% of Colorado voters support the ballot measure, compared to more than 31% who rejected it.

Proposition EE will increase taxes on those products incrementally over the next seven years, in part to try to discourage smoking. But it also aims to generate revenue for state priorities — first for education, housing and rural schools, all of which were affected by a $3 billion cut to the state budget earlier this year. Starting in 2023-24, the majority of the revenue would flow toward preschool access for 4-year-olds.

The ballot measure, which will collect up to $276 million a year when fully implemented, will help Gov. Jared Polis deliver on a key goal — expanding preschool programming in Colorado.

Education advocates applaud the measure, citing the importance of early childhood education in setting children up for academic success in the long term. 

“It’s incredibly exciting for the first time in the state’s history to have new dedicated revenue specifically for early childhood education,” said Bill Jaeger, vice president of early childhood and policy initiatives at the nonprofit Colorado Children’s Campaign. “And Colorado now has the opportunity to take a first-in-the-nation approach to universal preschool that provides something for everyone, but the most for those who would benefit the most.”

But opponents criticize the ballot initiative for not clearly spelling out how a universal preschool program would work, who would qualify for the funds and how the dollars would be distributed. They also insist that it’s not the right time to enforce a tax increase, with the state and country trying to overcome an economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

“Instead of asking voters for millions, our state leaders should have focused on supporting Coloradans through this unprecedented time,” Mary Szarmach, senior vice president of governmental and external affairs and co-owner of Smoker Friendly and Gas A Mat, said in a statement provided by A Bad Deal for Colorado. The committee has led opposition to the ballot measure. 

— Erica Breunlin, Staff writer


Coloradans still uncertain about wolf reintroduction

9:15 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Colorado voters are wary of wolves. 

Early voting results on Tuesday showed wolf reintroduction as one of the tightest contests on Tuesday’s ballot, with voters narrowly approving of Proposition 114. The measure would direct Colorado Parks and Wildlife to come up with a plan to reintroduce gray wolves to the Western Slope by the end of 2023. 

Prop 114 was leading by less than 13,000 votes with more than 2.6 million votes counted by  8:30 p.m. on Tuesday night. The measure would mark the first time that voters — not federal wildlife biologists — directed state officials to reintroduce wolves. 

Read the full story.
Jason Blevins, Staff writer


Republican Lauren Boebert holds narrow lead in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District

8:52 PM | Nov 3, 2020🔗
Lauren Boebert, Republican candidate for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, high-fives U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner during a get-out-the-vote-rally at the Grand Junction Motor Speedway in Grand Junction, Colo., Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. (Barton Glasser, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Republican Lauren Boebert was narrowly leading Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District race, preliminary Tuesday results show. 

As of 8:30 p.m., Boebert was up 49% to 47% over Mitsch Bush in the massive district, which spans the Western Slope and reaches south and east to Pueblo.

The candidates were split by a little more than 10,000 votes. The race was too close to call as several counties had not reported their results.

Read the full story.

Jesse Paul, Staff writer


Colorado voters split over Proposition 117, which could trigger elections over government fees 

8:51 PM | Nov 3, 2020🔗

In early returns Tuesday evening, Colorado voters were narrowly split on whether to impose new TABOR-like restrictions on their government officials by requiring lawmakers to seek voter approval for the creation of certain fee-based programs.

With 2.4 million votes counted, 52% of voters were in favor of Proposition 117’s passage.

The measure, supported by conservative groups, would require voter approval for the creation of some fee-funded state government programs known as “enterprises.” Common examples include water utilities, parks or toll roads that are funded primarily by user fees rather than taxes.

Backers of the measure say Prop 117 is needed to rein in state lawmakers, who, since the passage of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, have increasingly turned to fees to fund government services. Fees have multiplied at least in part because — unlike taxes — they aren’t governed by TABOR’s voter-consent requirements.

Opponents say the proposition would further tie the hands of Colorado lawmakers, who are already subject to some of the most restrictive fiscal policies in the country.

Importantly, Prop 117 wouldn’t apply to existing enterprise programs. And it would only apply to new ones that generate at least $100 million over their first five years, or an average of $20 million annually.

— Brian Eason, Colorado Sun correspondent


Doug Lamborn wins reelection

8:34 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Republican Doug Lamborn wins reelection to the U.S. House in Colorado’s 5th Congressional District, the Associated Press reported at 8:25 p.m.


Chris Kolker flips state Senate seat in Centennial to Democrats

8:34 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Democrat Chris Kolker, a financial planner, defeated former Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert to win an open seat that had been Republican. In early returns, Kolker was leading 57% to 43%.

GOP Sen. Jack Tate opted not to run for reelection in the Centennial-based district. Democrats spent nearly $2.5 million opposing Staiert and supporting Kolker, while Republicans spent only about $248,000.

Staiert’s role in ethics complaints against former Gov. John Hickenlooper fueled many of the Democratic attacks.

If other incumbents hold their seats, the Democratic Senate majority would grow to 20-15.

Sandra Fish, Correspondent


Proposition 115, which would have banned abortion after 22 weeks in Colorado, fails

8:34 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

A measure that would ban abortions in Colorado after 22 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk, failed Tuesday night.

Both supporters and opponents of Proposition 115 had predicted a tight battle over what supporters of the ban call “late-term abortion,” but opponents declared victory about an hour after the polls closed.

Read the full story.

Jennifer Brown, Staff writer


Republican Ken Buck wins reelection to U.S. House in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District

8:34 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Republican Ken Buck wins reelection to the U.S. House in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, the Associated Press reported at 8:15 p.m.


Democrat Joe Neguse wins reelection to U.S. House in Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District

8:34 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Democrat Joe Neguse wins reelection to the U.S. House in Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, the Associated Press reported at 8:03 p.m.


Colorado voters approve expansion of casino games, bet limits in mountain towns

8:34 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗
A customer inside The Lodge Casino on Wednesday June 17, 2020, in Black Hawk. (Hugh Carey, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Since Colorado voters approved casinos in three struggling mountain towns in 1990, they have in at least eight statewide ballot measures repeatedly rejected any expansion of casinos and video slot machines beyond Cripple Creek, Central City and Black Hawk.

But they have allowed casinos in those three towns to expand, starting with a 2008 vote that allowed gambling halls to increase hours, bet limits and games. 

And voters again on Tuesday allowed those three gambling towns to grow their casinos, as Amendment 77 passed with 60% of the vote. The Associated Press called the race a little after 9:30 p.m. 

The amendment gives voters in Cripple Creek, Central City and Black Hawk the authority to increase maximum bets beyond the $100 limit allowed in 2008 and to add new games beyond slots, blackjack, poker, roulette and craps. Almost all the financial support for the measure — more than $4 million — has come from the three largest casino operators in Black Hawk: Caesars Entertainment, Penn National and Monarch Casino Resort. 

“This amendment gives local communities the keys to rev up their economic engines,” said David Farahi, the head of Monarch Casino Resort Inc., in a statement.

And voters in those Colorado’s gambling hamlets on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the state plan, giving gamblers unlimited bet limits and handing local councils the authority to approve new games. Cripple Creek voters approved the city’s 2A measure by a vote of 266 to 97. Voters in Central City approved their 2B measure 219 to 78, and Black Hawk voters approved that city’s 2A measure by 50 to 11. 

Colorado’s casinos wilted during the pandemic shutdown, with revenues and gaming taxes collapsing in March, April, May and June. The fiscal 2020 year ended July 31 with casino revenues dropping to $627.7 million, down from $840.3 million in fiscal 2019. Gaming taxes for the state fell to $80.3 million in fiscal 2020, down from a record $125 million the previous year, marking the sharpest decline in the history of legal gambling in Colorado. 

Proponents of Amendment 77 argued that casinos needed to up their game if they wanted to compete with modern-day casinos in hotspots like Las Vegas and Reno. Casinos in recent years have added giant hotels and diversified amenities, while communities like Black Hawk plan bike trails, event centers and a $50 million whiskey resort.

Another gambling measure, Amendment C, would ease dated laws regulating charitable bingo and raffles. With nearly all the votes counted by 10 p.m., the measure was leading 52% to 48%, but that is not enough for victory. The measure requires 55% approval to pass because it adds to the Colorado Constitution. 

Bingo landed in the state constitution in 1958 and aside from a small adjustment allowing electronic bingo in the mid 1990s, little has changed. (There were 49 bingo halls in Colorado producing about $129 million for charities in the 1980s. Today, there are 11 halls producing $23 million.)

Amendment C would reduce the number of years a nonprofit must be in existence before applying for a bingo license and enables charities to pay employees to run bingo contests and raffles. 

— Jason Blevins, Staff writer


Amendment 76, specifying who’s allowed to vote in Colorado’s elections, approaches likely passage

8:16 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

A Colorado ballot measure seeking to limit voting rights from expanding in Colorado looks close to passing based on preliminary returns.

As of 8 p.m. on Tuesday, returns for Amendment 76 saw over 61% of voters in favor and about 38% opposed. The amendment needs at least a 55% supermajority to pass, since it changes the Colorado Constitution.

The amendment sought to change language in the Colorado Constitution to “only a citizen” being eligible to vote. The previous language stated that “every citizen” who is eligible can vote.

The ballot language, however, did not specify that change; it simply asked, “Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution requiring that to be qualified to vote at any election an individual must be a United States citizen?” 

Denver voters cast ballots on Nov. 8, 2018 (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Technically this was already the law in Colorado. To be eligible to vote, someone must be a U.S. citizen with residency in the state. Previously, there was also an age limit of 18 years old. But the Colorado Votes Act, which passed the legislature in 2019 and was first used this year, allows those who will be 18 years old by the time of the general election to vote in primaries. 

Amendment 76 would override that law, and further bar the state or local governments from passing laws that would expand voting rights to more people, unless the constitution changes again. 

The amendment was supported in large part by Colorado Citizen Voters, a local branch of the national political organization Citizen Voters, Inc. Proponents of the measure argued that it was more of an effort to clear up vague constitutional language and ensure that noncitizens can’t vote.

A coalition of advocacy groups formed the Campaign for Real Election Protection in opposition to the measure. The coalition argued that Amendment 76 was a veiled attempt at voter suppression and could create a pathway for future attempts to limit voting rights.

If passed, the amendment will go into effect starting with elections in 2021.

— Lucy Haggard, Staff writer


Colorado likely to approve Prop 116, cutting state income taxes by $150 million

8:14 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Colorado voters appeared poised to approve a small, across-the-board cut to the state’s income tax rate that would permanently reduce taxes for individuals and businesses alike.

With 2.5 million votes tallied, Proposition 116 was leading with 56% of the vote tallied early Tuesday night.

If the results hold, the measure would reduce the state income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55%, providing Coloradans some minor financial relief amid the ongoing economic crisis. That represents a 1.7% cut, or a savings of about $37 annually for the average taxpayer. The savings for someone with $25,000 in taxable income would be about $20 while those with taxable income of $1 million would save $800.

But small tax cuts for everyone add up to big money for the state’s coffers. By a legislative estimate, it could reduce state revenue by more than $150 million a year at a time when state budget writers are already grappling with huge shortfalls due to the pandemic. 

The vote would be a win for its conservative supporters, as well as Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, who has consistently bucked progressives in his party to cheer on Republican efforts to reduce taxes. For the left, which has long sought additional revenue to boost funding to things like K-12 schools and higher education, the vote is yet another in a steady stream of ballot box defeats on tax questions in recent years, reinforcing Colorado’s fiscal conservative streak, even as it shifts further to the left in who it elects to office.

— Brian Eason, Sun contributor


Colorado voters set to repeal Gallagher Amendment

8:11 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗
A look at the disparate changes in property taxes from the Gallagher amendment since 2004, based on a legislative council analysis. (Screenshot)

Colorado voters approved Amendment B and jettisoned the Gallagher Amendment in a landslide, repealing the landmark constitutional provision that has delivered more than $35 billion in property tax cuts to homeowners and fundamentally reshaped government spending over the last four decades.

With 2.4 million votes tallied, the repeal effort was leading 58 percent to 42 percent.

If the results hold, it would represent a major victory for top state lawmakers, business leaders and liberal fiscal reform advocates who have been trying for years to get voters to relax some of Colorado’s unique constitutional restraints on taxes and public spending.

The decision prevents an estimated $491 million in cuts to school districts and another $204 million in cuts to county governments next year, amid a financial crisis that could get worse as coronavirus cases spike across the state. Those figures don’t even include the potential impact to cities or to special districts that provide essential services like fire protection and health care if Gallagher remained in place.

In exchange, voters would be giving up an estimated 18% residential property tax cut that was expected to take effect in 2021, forgoing financial relief for homeowners and renters alike amid an economic crisis.

Gallagher’s costs and benefits — unequally distributed across the state — have carved out a complicated legacy since its passage in 1982. On the one hand, it has largely delivered on its core promise of property tax relief, saving homeowners an estimated $2.8 billion last year alone, according to a state fiscal analysis. But its downsides have rippled throughout the state in uneven ways, squeezing local services in rural areas and shifting higher taxes onto businesses in some communities when residential taxes fall.

Gallagher limits residential taxes to 45% of the statewide property tax base. So when home values rise faster than those of businesses, it can trigger tax cuts for homeowners, helping offset the rising cost of housing. But because of the sheer volume of people who live on the Front Range, the housing market in the broader Denver area dictates the property taxes people pay all over the state, cutting tax revenue even in parts of rural Colorado that didn’t have much to begin with.

— Brian Eason, Sun correspondent


Paid family leave proposal headed toward victory

8:05 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Voters appeared to accomplish Tuesday what Colorado Democrats could not for the past six years at the state legislature: a statewide paid-leave program for workers who want time off to have a baby or care for a sick loved one.

The ballot measure was passing 56.5% to 43.5% according to early unofficial returns and 65% of votes tallied. It requires workers and employers to pay into an insurance pool run by the Colorado Department of Labor. Beginning in 2024, workers could apply to the fund to receive pay during time off from work, up to $1,100 per week. 

Read the full story here. 

— Jennifer Brown, staff writer


University of Colorado Board of Regents set to flip to Democratic-controlled majority

7:56 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

After decades of Republican control, the University of Colorado Board of Regents will likely flip to a 5-4 majority favoring Democrats.

Preliminary results from Tuesday night show Democrat Ilana Spiegel ahead of Republican Richard Murray in District 6, which wraps around the south and east sides of Denver. The district has been represented by Republican John Carson, who did not run for re-election this year.

In District 2, Democrat Callie Rennison was ahead of Republican Dick Murphy. District 2 includes the north central region of the state, including Boulder, Larimer and Grand counties. 

For District 7, Democrat Nolbert Chavez ran unopposed. He will replace Democrat Irene Griego. District 7 covers much of the Denver metro area, including Arvada, Westminster and Golden.

The Board of Regents includes seven district-specific members and two at-large members. The board controls a roughly $4.8 billion budget for a university system with about 70,000 students. 

The board has been Republican controlled for multiple decades, with a current 5-4 party split. A recent investigation revealed the regents were working to oust former president Bruce Benson before he announced his retirement in July 2018. His successor, Mark Kennedy, was selected along party lines in 2019 amid controversy of an opaque selection process.

— Lucy Haggard, Staff writer


Hickenlooper easily defeats Cory Gardner

7:51 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

John Hickenlooper easily defeats incumbent Cory Gardner in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race, the Associated Press reported at 7:42 p.m.

>> More in our full story 


Abortion measure failing, according to early returns

7:51 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

A measure that would ban abortions in Colorado after 22 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk, was failing with 39% of the vote tallied Tuesday night. 

Both supporters and opponents of Proposition 115 had predicted a tight battle over what supporters of the ban call “late-term abortion.” Coloradans have swiftly defeated three other ballot measures since 2008 that attempted to define a fetus as a person under the criminal code, but this question is different, targeting the point in pregnancy at which a fetus might survive outside the womb. 

>> Read the full story

— Jennifer Brown, Staff writer


Democrat Jason Crow easily secures second term in U.S. House

7:51 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗
U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, D-Aurora, at a rally in support of the DACA program. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, an Aurora Democrat, easily secured a second term on Tuesday night, beating Republican Steve House, former chair of the Colorado GOP. 

The Associated Press projected him as the winner in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District at 7:41 p.m. 

“I look forward to fighting the next two years, continuing to advance our community’s values,” Crow told The Sun. 

Republicans thought Crow’s work as an impeachment manager against President Donald Trump could make him more vulnerable. But he was solidly beating House on Tuesday night and rejected that notion.

 “I’m very proud of taking a leading role in defending our democracy,” Crow said.

Jesse Paul, Staff writer


Democrat Joe Biden running up the score in Colorado against President Donald Trump

7:39 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Democrat Joe Biden is cruising to victory in Colorado, taking the state’s nine electoral votes in a contest that was never in doubt. The Associated Press and five major TV networks called the race at about 7:30 p.m.

Read more: https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/03/joe-biden-wins-colorado-donald-trump-2020-election/

— John Frank, Staff writer


Prop EE early lead could clear way for education, housing funding

7:20 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗
The cigarette and vaping display at a convenience store in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood on April 30, 2019. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

Coloradans who use cigarettes, nicotine and other tobacco products could soon start paying more in taxes, with preliminary election results showing voter approval of Proposition EE.

Early results show more than 72% of Colorado voters support the ballot measure after 735,529 votes had been counted.

Those returns skew Democratic, with Republican voters having held onto their ballots to cast their votes later in the 2020 election season.

Proposition EE has sought to increase taxes on those products incrementally over the next seven years, in part to try to discourage smoking. But it also aims to generate revenue for state priorities — first for education, housing and rural schools, all of which were affected by a $3 billion cut to the state budget earlier this year. Starting in 2023-24, the majority of the revenue dollars would flow toward preschool access for 4 year olds.

The ballot measure, which would collect up to $276 million a year when fully implemented, could help Gov. Jared Polis deliver on a key goal — expanding preschool programming in Colorado.

Education advocates applaud the measure, citing the importance of early childhood education in setting children up for academic success in the long term. But opponents criticize the ballot initiative for not clearly spelling out how a universal preschool program would work, who would qualify for the funds and how the dollars would be distributed.

— Erica Breunlin, staff writer


Diana DeGette among first victors declared in Colorado election

7:17 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Democrat Diana DeGette has won reelection to U.S. House in Colorado’s 1st Congressional District, according to the Associated Press.


Coronavirus has caused hiccups on way to record election turnout

6:38 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Colorado hit record voter turnout numbers Tuesday, but this November’s election has not gone off without a hitch. 

Of course there’s the difficulty of running an election during a pandemic. The seven-day average of coronavirus cases statewide as of Monday — 2,141 cases — was the highest recorded since the start of the pandemic. 

Some prospective voters reported that coronavirus quarantine prevented them from going to the polls. Arin Russell recently moved to Debeque from Grand Junction and was intending to update her voter registration at a voting center, since state law offers same-day voter registration. But after being out of town until Monday night, she got a call Tuesday morning that she and her father may have been exposed to coronavirus.

“It’s just one of those situations that I never expected,” Russell said. 

It’s not clear exactly how many voters are in Russell’s shoes, but there is a solution: A replacement registration form and emergency replacement ballot. Russell said she was “relieved and excited” to get the opportunity to vote, especially after thinking for a while that she would just forgo this election. As of Tuesday evening, she was still working to communicate with Mesa County, which she said was “swamped” trying to help people vote.

Multiple county clerks told The Colorado Sun they have delivered more replacement ballots to voters over the past couple of weeks than they do in a normal year, likely due to the pandemic.

>> Go to the full story to read more.

— Lucy Haggard, Staff writer


Republican Senate incumbents, House Dem candidates raise & spend big

6:15 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Republican incumbents in two highly contested Senate contests outpaced their Democratic opponents in fundraising, while Democratic candidates in two other closely watched Senate races and several House contests have the cash lead.

Senate reports filed Monday for money raised and spent through Oct. 28 show:

  • Republican Sen. Kevin Priola outspent Democrat Paula Dickerson $98,000 to $88,000 as he tried to retain his Adams County seat. The District 25 seat is the most expensive contest this year in terms of outside spending, which totals nearly $4 million.
  • GOP Sen. Bob Rankin outraised Democrat Karl Hanlon in their District 8 contest in western Colorado. But Hanlon spent more than Rankin after loaning his campaign $18,000 and facing a tougher primary contest.
  • Democrat Chris Kolker outraised GOP candidate Suzanne Staiert, a former deputy secretary of state, by $226,000 to $89,000 for the open seat in Centennial. That district has seen more than $2.7 million in outside spending, most of it against Staiert.
  • Democratic Sen. Rachel Zenzinger is the top legislative fundraiser in 2020 with more than $350,000. Her GOP opponent, Lynn Gerber, raised $51,000 in Arvada’s District 19.

In the state House:

  • Democratic Rep. Bri Buentello spent nearly $200,000 to GOP opponent Stephanie Luck’s $36,000 in a Pueblo seat Republicans would like to take back. The contest has seen nearly $868,000 in outside spending, much of it supporting Buentello.
  • Democrat Daniel Ortiz topped House fundraising with more than $226,000 and spent $204,000 as he challenged GOP Rep. Richard Champion in a Littleton district expected to be a loss for Republicans. Champion spent about $69,000, but got little help from outside GOP groups.
  • Freshman Democratic Rep. Brianne Titone spent more than $164,000 to Republican Vicky Pyne’s $67,000. The Arvada seat has seen more than $646,000 in outside spending, most of it supporting Titone.
  • Another Jefferson County freshman, Rep. Lisa Cutter, spent nearly $159,000, while GOP opponent Don Rosier spent $66,000. District 25 has seen the second most outside spending in the House at nearly $855,000.

— Sandra Fish, Sun correspondent


Racial issues remain a flashpoint for presidential politics

5:45 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Months of protests against police brutality and systemic racism have positioned racial equity as a key factor for many voters.

Supporters of President Donald Trump say he has done more than many give him credit for when it comes to racial justice. “You compare him to Obama, he did a lot more as far as prison reform,” said Nicholas Gibson, 47, who is Black. 

Nicholas Gibson of Aurora said he voted for Donald Trump for president because of his action on prison reform, and because he feels contender Joe Biden has done little to advance racial justice. (Robert Tann, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Gibson, who voted in-person in Aurora, said the Democratic Party has politicized the Black community for votes, a major reason why he could not bring himself to vote for Biden. He said Biden has had 40 years in government and done little to advance racial justice. 

But Trump’s history of racist language hangs over his supporters. Hilary McAllister, 42, said she has lost friends on social media over her support for the president, even being labeled a white supremacist. 

Trump has come under fire for his repeated comments on white supremacy. When asked to denounce white supremacist groups, such as the Proud Boys, he told them during an October debate to “stand back and stand by.”

But McAllister, who voted in person in Parker today, said those comments are taken out of context and does not believe the president is racist.

Codi Schole, 25, said Trump’s political movement has brought out more white supremacy throughout the country than any president to come before him. For Schole, civil rights are on the ballot and she believes a Biden administration will do more to support LGBTQ+ communities and communities of color. 

She said she was excited to vote for Kamala Harris, the first Asian American and Black woman to be nominated for vice president by a major party, and called her a “wonderful leader.” 

— Robert Tann, Sun correspondent


Trump supporters keeping up enthusiasm on Election Day

3:49 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗
Supporters of President Donald Trump gather at a Highlands Ranch intersection Tuesday afternoon. (John Leyba, Special to the Colorado Sun)

Nearly 100 Donald Trump supporters, some waving giant flags and shouting through megaphones, gathered at a Highlands Ranch intersection for hours on Tuesday for one of several Colorado Trump rallies intent on maintaining enthusiasm through Election Day. 

The group, which broadcast a Trump speech through a speaker at University Boulevard and Highlands Ranch Parkway, had gathered the night before at a different Douglas County intersection. Many in the crowd have been participating in social media-organized intersection rallies for months.

Landon Carr, 18, arrived with a pack of teenagers, some not yet old enough to vote. Carr voted for the first time in his life Tuesday, casting a ballot in Highlands Ranch for Trump and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. 

Carr, who is a high school senior and works at Home Depot, said he looks at the president as the “CEO of our country” and that people should hold him accountable only for things he can control.

“He is the guy who is making us money. He is the commander in chief,” said Carr, adding that it’s unfair to pin racial injustice and police brutality on Trump. “I support our president.”

Carr said he does not like Biden because “he can’t even form a sentence and how is he supposed to run the country” and negotiate with foreign leaders. The new voter had a message for those who complain about America: “Go live in Iraq for a week. We are all really fortunate to grow up in the United States.”

Another participant, Jane Riley, voted early in Douglas County and planned to spend six hours waving a Trump flag on Tuesday. 

“This is fabulous,” said Riley, secretary of the Douglas County Republicans, as cars honked while passing through the intersection. “We have a few people that are very rude and most are very supportive.”

For the first time ever, the traditionally Republican county has competitive general-election races for county commissioner and the state legislature, with Democrats hoping they will win their first state House seat.

“We definitely see Douglas County staying Republican-led and community-driven,” said Riley, 58, who is a compliance officer in the financial industry and votes for less government regulation.

As for the presidential race, Riley said she is “cautiously optimistic.” 

A group of Democrats holding signs for U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, state House of Representatives candidate Jennifer Mitkowski and Douglas County commissioner candidate Darien Wilson gathered earlier in the day at a different Highlands Ranch intersection. 

— Jennifer Brown, Staff writer


Colorado surpasses 3 million voters for the first time ever

2:54 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Colorado’s voter turnout surpassed 3 million for the first time — the product of a high-interest election and massive state growth.

The previous high-water mark came in 2016 when 2,859,216 cast ballots. Since the 2016 election, Colorado added more than 349,000 new registered voters through Nov. 1.

In fact, 79,000 voters registered between Oct. 1 and Nov. 1 this year, a Colorado Sun analysis shows. The 2% statewide increase in voter registration was proportionally distributed between the two major parties and the unaffiliated ranks.

At a voting center near the Smoky Hill Library, 48-year-old Sam Middleswart, who has been a supervising election judge since 1996, said he is “super proud” of the turnout he’s seen.“The turnout has been phenomenal,” Middleswart said. “These in person vote sites have been open since (Oct. 19) and we’ve been seeing triple-digits everyday in person. That’s not counting the drop-off mail ballots.” He said in past elections the site has seen 10 to 20 people voting per day. This election has seen an average of 125 people per day.

–John Frank, Staff writer, and Robert Tann, correspondent


In Denver, two voters who sat out 2016 feel compelled to cast ballots this time around

2:53 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗
Voters cast their ballots Corona Presbyterian Church in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood on Tuesday. Nov. 3, 2020. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

At the voter service center at Corona Presbyterian Church in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood there was a steady stream of people dropping off ballots and voting in person on Tuesday afternoon.

Among them were David Munhofen and Cecile Richard. Both sat out the 2016 election but felt compelled to vote this time around because of the state of politics and the country.

Richard, who actually cast her ballot a few days prior and was accompanying a man who was dropping off his ballot, said she didn’t vote four years ago out of laziness. This time around, she backed Democrat Joe Biden in the presidential race and Democrat John Hickenlooper in the U.S. Senate race. 

“I don’t like Trump,” she said.

When asked why she decided to vote this time around, she said: “It’s obvious — because of the last four years.”

Munhofen, a 53-year-old unaffiliated voter, said he felt compelled to vote this year because of his opposition to abortions and because of violent and destructive protests in recent months. He backed President Donald Trump and Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. 

“With all this craziness it made me think it really does matter that I vote,” he said.

Sterling Cook, a 33-year-old Democrat, also cast his ballot at Corona Presbyterian Church on Tuesday. He said he voted for Biden in the presidential race but “it was the third hardest vote I’ve ever taken.”

He said he thinks Biden is too conservative and that he supported Democratic U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primaries earlier this year. 

— Jesse Paul, Staff writer


A handful of states could join Colorado and legalize marijuana in the 2020 election

2:35 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗
Cannabis plants grow inside RiNo Supply’s cultivation facility near Lafayette on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. The greenhouse uses automated fans and lights to maintain efficient growing cycles while also reducing energy-consumption costs. (Andy Colwell, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Four states tonight could follow the 2012 example of Colorado and move to legalize recreational marijuana use.

  • A proposition in Arizona would legalize cannabis use for adults over 21. 
  • Montana will decide on dual ballot initiatives that would legalize recreational marijuana use and establish 21 as the legal age to use or possess it.  
  • A New Jersey measure would amend the state’s constitution to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults over 21. 

Polling in all the states shows the measures could likely pass. 

South Dakota could take the unique step of legalizing both medicinal and recreational use of cannabis on the same night, with two ballot measures. 

Going into tonight, 11 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana. 

Elsewhere, Mississippi is considering two medical marijuana measures. One would allow doctors to recommend cannabis use to patients with certain conditions. The other measure would only allow people who are terminally ill to smoke cannabis. 

— Evan Ochsner, Staff writer 


Democrats continue to dominate outside spending in Colorado legislative contests

2:02 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Democrats spent more than double their Republican counterparts on state legislative contests, based on reports filed Monday.

Democratic outside groups spent nearly $9.7 million on independent expenditures and electioneering aimed at the general election, a Colorado Sun analysis shows. Republican groups spent about $4 million, while unaffiliated groups spent $857,000.

Republicans are being vastly outspent in state House contests, where Democrats hope to preserve two contested seats and potentially pick up additional seats.

Republicans outspent Democrats in only one of the five most expensive contests, western Colorado’s Senate District 8. In that race, incumbent GOP Sen. Bob Rankin, of Carbondale, faces Democrat Karl Hanlon, of Glenwood Springs. 

Unaffiliated super PACs are supporting Rankin and GOP Sen. Kevin Priola, who faces a battle in Adams County’s District 25. But a quarter of the unaffiliated cash being spent is supporting Democratic Rep. Bri Buentello in Pueblo’s District 47.

The top donors to such committees are both dark money nonprofits that don’t disclose their donors. Sixteen Thirty Fund gave nearly $2.2 million to three top Democratic super PACs, while Unite for Colorado’s nonprofit arm gave nearly $1.6 million to Unite for Colorado Action, which primarily supported Republican Senate candidates.

— Sandra Fish, Sun correspondent


Colorado polls filled with anxious last-minute voters

1:30 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

AURORA — Anxieties ran high as voters turned out to cast their ballots at the Tallyn’s Reach Library polling center in southeastern Aurora. Arriving between meetings, on lunch breaks and before doctor’s appointments, voters were eager to make sure their ballot was cast in an election that they saw as crucial. 

Betsy Wilson, a 57-year-old from Aurora, voted in person on Election Day. (Robert Tann, Special to The Colorado Sun)

“It’s the most important election of our lifetimes,” said Betsy Wilson, a 57-year-old from Aurora. A registered Republican, Wilson voted in-person for both President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner to be reelected.

She said any election night violence that may ensue “won’t be from Trump supporters.” 

Potential unrest and chaos is a fear that hangs over many voters as the election enters its final hours. 

Parker Nelson, 19, said he hopes communities are spared from any violence as people react to election results. “It’s stressful,” said Nelson, who voted for a mix of Democrats and Republicans on the ballot.

Kerri Morgan, 43, said she was optimistic about Democrats’ chances as she voted at Taylln’s Reach Library in Aurora on Nov. 3, 2020. (Robert Tann, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Daniel Dornan, 20, wants people to remember that no matter what the results are “people are still people.” Dornan, who lives in Aurora, voted for Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the presidential race and John Hickenlooper for U.S. Senate. He fears tensions will only escalate between partisan camps after the election.

Kerri Morgan, 43, is optimistic about a blue wave in Colorado but is still nervous for how results in other swing states may pan out. 

“My hope is Biden gets big wins,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of anxiety going around.”

— Robert Tann, Sun correspondent


More Coloradans have now voted than did in all of 2016

1:16 PM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

On Tuesday morning Colorado’s vote total surpassed the number of ballots cast in 2016.

As of 10 a.m., 2,893,395 people had voted. In 2016, 2,855,960 votes were cast in Colorado.

Thousands more votes are expected to be cast on Tuesday before polls close at 7 p.m. 

It’s important to note that the number of registered voters in Colorado has grown dramatically over the past six years. Just before the 2016 election, there were 3,802,888 registered voters in Colorado. This year, there are 4,188,724.

That’s a difference of 385,836 new registered voters in Colorado between 2016 and 2020.

— Jesse Paul, Staff writer


Cory Gardner’s problem: As goes the presidential race, so goes the U.S. Senate race in Colorado — with 2 exceptions

12:50 PM | Nov 3, 2020🔗
Cory Gardner embraces President Donald Trump during a campaign rally at the World Arena in Colorado Springs on Feb. 20, 2020. (Mark Reis, Special to The Colorado Sun)

How President Donald Trump performs in Colorado is a key indicator for the state’s U.S. Senate race — and that’s what should make Republican incumbent Cory Gardner nervous.

Colorado voters split their ticket in these top two races only twice in 40 years, a Colorado Sun analysis shows. In every other year, the party that won Colorado’s electoral votes for president also took the U.S. Senate seat.

The most recent exception came in 2004 when Democrat Ken Salazar won the U.S. Senate race by 4.7% but Republican George Bush won the presidential race in Colorado by 4.6%. The only other time this occurred in the past four decades came in 1980 when Democratic U.S. Sen. Gary Hart won reelection but Ronald Reagan won the state’s presidential race.

The 2020 race looks like it will continue the pattern. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper are widely favored to win, polls show.

Want exclusive political news and insights first? Subscribe to The Unaffiliated, the political newsletter from The Colorado Sun. That’s where this story first appeared.

Join now or upgrade your membership.

“Ken Salazar’s results could give Gardner hope, but the state and nation are both far more partisan than they were in 2004 when Salazar overcame a Kerry loss to win his Senate seat,” states a memo from Democratic consulting firm Hilltop Public Solutions. 

It’s a similar story nationwide. A Pew Research analysis going back to 1980 found 122 of 139 U.S. Senate and presidential elections across the nation were aligned in partisanship.

— John Frank, Staff writer


Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District race may not be called on election night

10:59 AM | Nov 3, 2020🔗
From left: Former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, and Republican upstart Lauren Boebert are facing off in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. (Colorado Sun file photos)

All eyes are on Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District race today since it’s likely the most competitive federal contest on the state’s ballot this year. But don’t get your hopes up about the outcome being called on election night. 

Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz told The Colorado Sun he wouldn’t have all of his ballots counted before Wednesday at the earliest. That’s critical to the outcome of the 3rd CD race because Pueblo is poised to be the deciding factor in the battle between Republican Lauren Boebert and Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush.

MORE: Pueblo flipped to Trump from Obama in 2016. How the swing county votes this year will speak volumes.

“We’re going to count them as fast as we can,” Ortiz said, but he explained that he’s expecting 16,000 ballots on Election Day alone, which he said will be impossible to count in one day.

“We’re expecting to be counting votes on Wednesday,” Ortiz said, urging people to be patient. 

Ortiz said his office was counting ballots in Pueblo after Election Day in both 2016 and 2018 and that it’s not out of the ordinary for the tally to take some time. He said there will be plenty of ballots counted by the end of Tuesday, it’s just that since the 3rd Congressional District race is expected to be close the outcome likely won’t be clear until Pueblo finishes tabulating all of its votes.

— Jesse Paul, Staff writer


No balloon drop. No open bars. No candidate speeches. It’s a virtual election night in Colorado.

10:15 AM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗
State Sen. Leroy Garcia, at the podium, celebrates with his Democratic colleagues on election night in 2018. The coronavirus will force election celebrations in 2020 into the virtual space. (John Frank, The Colorado Sun)

A campaign unlike any other will end much the same. 

The high rates of coronavirus (once again) shut down the campaign trail in the final weeks as a public health order from Gov. Jared Polis limited gatherings to 10 people or less in most of the state.

Now election night will come and go without the typical red-white-and-blue celebrations. Both major parties and their top-tier candidates are not holding in-person election night parties, opting instead for virtual events.

Want exclusive political news and insights first? Subscribe to The Unaffiliated, the political newsletter from The Colorado Sun. That’s where this story first appeared.

Join now or upgrade your membership.

The Colorado Democratic Party will hold a party online starting at 7 p.m. hosted by Chairwoman Morgan Carroll and Executive Director Halisi Vinson that will feature candidates and even local artists. The Colorado Republican Party did not announce any plans.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic challenger John Hickenlooper are both expected to make remarks that will stream online at times unknown. Other candidates and ballot measures are hosting private virtual events to thank their supporters.

— John Frank, Staff writer


Colorado’s early vote surges ahead of Election Day

9:30 AM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗
Suzie Ahlers of Denver wears her Vote mask during a Voter Celebration Social at Tracks nightclub on Nov. 2, 2020. The event in Denver was hosted by Democratic state Rep. Leslie Herod. (John Leyba, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Colorado recorded 2,836,124 votes by 8:30 a.m. on Election Day — the approximation of early ballots cast in the state.

That represents 69% of registered voters in Colorado. Election officials are expecting a flood of ballots today before polls close at 7 p.m.

The Colorado Sun’s turnout tracker shows the statewide early vote ahead of Election Day outpaced 2016 levels, and in Boulder County the turnout already exceeds the turnout four years ago.

Keep checking the turnout tracker throughout the day for the latest numbers.

— John Frank, Staff writer


A final look at the polls in Colorado and who is expected to win

9:02 AM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

In the final days of the campaign, a flurry of polls offered new projections in Colorado. 

A local pollster who accurately projected the last two presidential elections in the state issued his final poll Sunday. Take a look at those numbers here.

A good bit of the other polling in Colorado left reason to doubt because of questionable methodology (such as nonprobability samples). Still, the numbers showed a pretty consistent picture, according to The Colorado Sun’s poll tracker in the presidential and U.S. Senate races.

How the polling averages changed over the course of the campaign is instructive. Both the presidential and U.S. Senate race tightened for a time, but in October the margins only increased for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and U.S. Senate contender John Hickenlooper. Here’s a quick look.

— John Frank, Staff writer


What Colorado political experts are expecting on election night

8:56 AM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner talks with Shawn Bentz, Lauren Boebert’s mother, and other supporters during a get-out-the-vote-rally at the Grand Junction Motor Speedway in Grand Junction on Nov. 2, 2020. (Barton Glasser, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Ahead of Election Day, we surveyed dozens of Colorado political watchers and activists to get a sense of what they were watching. We published the results Monday in The Colorado Sun’s premium political newsletter, The Unaffiliated. (If you don’t subscribe to The Unaffiliated, here’s how to get it.) 

Here’s a look a what we found:

  • Political experts across the partisan spectrum agreed that presidential candidate Joe Biden would cruise to victory over President Donald Trump and U.S. Senate challenger John Hickenlooper would top Republican incumbent Cory Gardner. 

Both Democrats are expected to win by 5 to 10 percentage points, the experts said.

 “I want to predict Cory Gardner as a winner. And deep down, I see it as a real possibility,” said Jim Pfaff, chief of staff for Colorado House Republicans. “But I don’t have any objective evidence of it yet and frankly strong evidence to the contrary.”

The Democratic consultants at Hilltop Public Solutions believe Biden and Hickenlooper will exceed the largest statewide margin of victory set by Gov. Jared Polis at 10.6% in the 2018 election.

  • The closer race is the 3rd Congressional District.

Republican Lauren Boebert is facing off against Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush in the Western Slope district that stretches around to Pueblo.

Robert Preuhs, a professor of political science at Metropolitan State University of Denver, sees the outcome as critical to the future of Colorado’s GOP. “If the spread in the state is greater than 7 (percentage points) for Biden, and Boebert loses … there will be a strong push by establishment and more moderate Republicans to abandon the conservative and contentious Trump platform and rhetoric,” Preuhs predicts. “But it will be a fight.”

MORE: What to watch on Election Day in Colorado

— John Frank, Staff writer


Start your Election Day with The Colorado Sun’s podcast and get a run down of what to watch

8:53 AM | Nov 3, 2020 🔗

Listen to today’s edition of our daily podcast to hear what The Colorado Sun’s political team will be tracking on Election Day.

— Jesse Paul, Staff writer


Rising Sun