Much at Stake for Coloradans in Next Week’s Odd-Year Election

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Click here to listen to the companion podcast on Colorado's odd-year election. 

With next year’s presidential election on the horizon, it is easy for voters to overlook next week’s odd-year election. On Tuesday, November 5, Colorado voters will select local government officials and school board members, consider changes to home-rule city charters, decide tax measures, and determine whether to legalize sports betting. Because Colorado has a vote-by-mail election, voters already have been casting ballots for over two weeks.

Colorado is one of only three vote-by-mail states, meaning that ballots are automatically sent to every registered voter in active status. Registered voters who are inactive, failed to receive their mail ballot, or prefer to vote in person can do so at a polling location in their county. Individuals who are not yet registered to vote can also do so in person at those same polling locations up until when the polls close at 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Likewise, ballots received in the mail must be returned by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day. Because postmarks do not count, and thus the Secretary of State’s office recommends October 28 as the last day to mail in the ballot, it is likely too late to return a ballot by mail. Voters who have yet to vote should instead hand deliver their ballot to a polling location or a designated ballot drop-off box in their county. No stamp is needed for ballots that are dropped off in person.

You can check whether you are registered to vote and the status of your ballot by clicking on the “Find My Registration” tool at the Colorado Secretary of State’s

Statewide Referred Ballot Measure
This year, voters across the state will be asked to decide two ballot measures that were referred to them by the state legislature. Proposition CC asks permission for the state government to keep the revenues it collects above spending limits imposed by Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) rather than refunding those revenues to taxpayers. The legislature has said it will divide the retained revenues equally among transportation, higher education and K-12 education.

Proposition DD asks whether sports betting should be legalized with a 10% tax on net proceeds. The tax would be paid by the casino operators and the funds would be largely dedicated to pay for projects under the state’s water conservation plan.

Because TABOR constrains the types of ballot measures that can appear on an odd-year ballot to measures that concern taxing, spending and borrowing, many of the typical statewide ballot measures seen in even-year elections do not qualify. As a result, there are no citizen-proposed initiatives on the 2019 ballot.

Visit Brownstein’s Ballot Initiative Tracker here the morning after Election Day to find out how voters decided Propositions CC and DD.

Local Government Elections
At the local level, voters will cast votes for or against city, county and special district TABOR ballot measures, home-rule city charter changes, and candidates for school boards and local government office. High-profile, mayoral and city council races in the Front Range are taking place in the following municipalities: Arvada, Aurora, Boulder, Brighton, Broomfield, Castle Pines, Centennial, Commerce City, Dacono, Edgewater, Englewood, Federal Heights, Fort Lupton, Fountain, Golden, Greeley, Greenwood Village, Lafayette, Lakewood, Littleton, Longmont, Louisville, Loveland, Manitou Springs, Mountain View, Northglenn, Thornton, Westminster and Wheat Ridge.

Looking Toward 2020
In addition to the presidential election and Colorado’s high-profile Senate race, Colorado voters will likely have multiple statewide ballot initiatives on their 2020 ballots. Three citizen initiatives have already been approved for circulation to gather signatures: Initiative #76 (specifying that “only a citizen,” rather than “every citizen,” may qualify to vote at all elections); Initiative #107 (reintroducing the gray wolf into Colorado); and Initiative #120 (prohibiting late-term abortions). Many more are likely to be proposed in the next several months. You can stay current with the statewide citizen initiatives seeking a spot on the 2020 ballot by visiting Brownstein’s Ballot Initiative Tracker.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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