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Colorado election turnout sets record, makes top 5 in nation

Evan Ochsner
The Colorado Sun
A voter prepares to drop their ballot into the ballot box inside the polling location at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

Empowered by mail ballots and energized by the nation’s polarized political climate, more Coloradans voted this year than ever before in the state’s history.

More than 3.3 million ballots had been processed by state election officials through Thursday and the tally is expected to grow as remaining ballots are processed and counted. That represents 78% of registered voters. In 2016, 2.9 million voters cast ballots, or 74% of those registered, according to state figures.

“It was really just very high turnout across the board,” said Ryan Winger, a data analyst for Magellan Strategies, which tracks early-vote numbers.

Colorado’s population has boomed in recent years, which allowed the state to top 3 million votes for the first time. But most significantly, the turnout hit 77% of the voting-eligible population — up from 72% in 2016, according to the nonpartisan U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida. This year’s number is the highest rate since tracking started in 2000.

Preliminary numbers show just three states had a higher turnout rate than Colorado: Iowa, Maine and Minnesota. Maine and Minnesota tied at 79.2%, the project found.

This story is being published partially online and in full in select print editions through an agreement with the Colorado Sun. Read the full story online at coloradosun.com.