Feb 24, 2021 - News

Denver looks at voting changes for 2023

Kendall Althans votes in the June primary election at a polling center in Denver. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

The way you vote in Denver's 2023 municipal election will look different, Clerk and Recorder Paul López tells Axios.

What's on the table: Ranked-choice and approval voting, systems that election officials say would save the city $1 million and boost voter turnout.

  • The ranked-choice method, often called instant runoff, asks voters to rank candidates based on their preference. Three cities in Colorado currently use it.

Another consideration is moving the municipal election date.

  • A shift from May to April would widen the window between municipal and runoff elections, giving elections administrators more time to ensure a fair election.
  • Moving from May to November to coincide with statewide elections would save an estimated $2 million. An instant-runoff system would be needed, López says.

The impact: New voting methods could change the political game.

  • With ranked choice, "voters can support outsider candidates without worrying about wasting their ballots. And candidates can win only with support — or at least tolerance — from a majority of the electorate," the New York Times reports.
  • Yes, but: "Whiter, more-affluent voters were likelier than minority populations and the poor to rank multiple candidates instead of just their first choice," the Colorado Sun reports.

What's next: A virtual town hall tonight will explore what's in the works.

  • Denver's clerk has convened a Charter Review Committee to craft a proposal that’s expected to be voted on by the City Council by late August and, if approved, brought before voters this November.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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