Mar 13, 2023 - News

Denver voter guide: A quick guide to the 2023 election

Illustration of a ballot being dropped into the Denver skyline.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Denver's municipal election April 4 represents a major turning point.

Why it matters: The city will elect its first new mayor in 12 years, and the decision comes at a crucial moment as homelessness, public safety and affordability are jeopardizing Denver's future.

  • In addition, races for city council and auditor — along with three ballot questions — will help determine the path forward.

Be smart: Here's what you need to know to vote in Denver's 2023 election.

How to vote

Every Denver voter will receive a two-sided ballot in the mail ahead of the April 4 election. The clerk will begin mailing ballots today.

  • In-person voting begins at the Webb building March 20, and all other voter centers across the city open March 27.

BFD: All ballots must be returned by 7pm Election Day.

Go deeper:

Mayor's race: Top contenders in a 17-way contest

Illustration of the Denver City and County Building with lines radiating from it.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The campaign to replace term-limited Mayor Michael Hancock is a crowded one, with 17 names on the ballot and a handful of others competing as write-in candidates.

Yes, but: A handful of candidates are emerging at the front of the pack. Kelly Brough, Leslie Herod and Mike Johnston are dominating the fundraising campaign and narrowly edging other candidates in polling.

The intrigue: If the winner doesn't receive more than 50% of the vote, the top two contenders will compete in a run-off election June 6.

Go deeper:

City Council: 1 citywide election and other neighborhood district battles

Illustration of a check mark being drawn in front of the Denver City and County Building facade in the colors of the city flag.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Denver City Council's 13-member chamber will have at least five new faces — and potentially more, with at least 40 candidates, including incumbents and political newcomers.

Why it matters: Denver City Council is responsible for crafting and passing city laws, approving the mayor's spending plan for the city, and deciding how land is zoned inside the city's 155 square miles.

Go deeper:

Auditor's race: Tim O'Brien vs. Erik Clarke

Left: Tim O'Brien. Right: Erik Clarke. Photos: Courtesy of the Denver Auditor’s Office and Erik Clarke's campaign

The race to be Denver's next auditor could be a close one.

Why it matters: The city auditor acts as a check and balance on Denver's "strong mayor" form of government and an agent for improving the performance of city agencies, from the police department to the airport.

Details: Incumbent Timothy O'Brien is vying for his third and final term against fellow Democrat and political newcomer Erik Clarke.

Of note: The only other citywide position on the ballot is clerk and recorder. Incumbent Paul Lopez, who oversees elections, is running unopposed.

Ballot measures: 2M, 2N, 2O

Illustration of the Denver skyline with word balloons filled with exclamation points popping up over it.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Denver City Council is asking voters to decide on three zoning-related policies this April, including whether to lift the city's conservation easement on the defunct Park Hill Golf Course and allow development there.

Of note: The city issues a ballot guide to help explain the ballot questions in English and Spanish.

Go deeper:

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