Colo. Dems worry about getting voters to turn out
DENVER, Colorado ” Some Colorado Democrats are starting to sweat after the state released numbers showing that mail ballots and early voting in key counties are not what they expected.
The latest figures from the secretary of state’s office, compiled before Democrat Barack Obama’s Sunday rallies in Colorado, showed that 22 percent of Democratic voters in Denver who received mail ballots have sent them back. In contrast, 26 percent of Republicans who received mail ballots have returned them.
In Adams County, a quarter of registered voters from both parties returned their ballots, and in Pueblo, 20 percent did.
Mike Melanson, campaign manager for Democratic Senate candidate Mark Udall, said he’s worried that Democratic voters have become complacent because polls show their candidates ahead. He said if voters wait until later in the week to mail their ballots, those ballots might not get to county clerks before the deadline at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“We have seen people in record numbers request ballots, and we’re encouraged by that, but we’re seeing a lot of folks sitting on them,” Melanson said.
Dick Wadhams, spokesman for GOP Senate candidate Bob Schaffer, said Republicans have focused heavily on their ground game while Democrats have been “lost in all this euphoria” over Obama.
Tom Kise, spokesman for GOP presidential candidate John McCain, said polls that show Obama ahead are meaningless when it comes time to count votes. He said despite a record turnout for Obama’s rally in Denver on Sunday, few voters were energized to go vote, despite the fact that polls were kept open this weekend.
“They may have come to see the show, but they didn’t go to the polls,” Kise said.
Kise said his party has done well in counties that Republicans are counting on, including Larimer, where 38 percent of Republicans who asked for mail ballots have returned them; Weld, with 34 percent; and Mesa, El Paso and Arapahoe counties, each with 36 percent.
Matt Chandler, spokesman for the Colorado Obama campaign, said voters still have time to mail in their ballots.
“We will continue our efforts to get out every vote from now until election day, but Democrats have accomplished a lot thus far. In years past, Republicans have held the lead in this state going into election day in terms of mail-in ballots,” Chandler said.
Statewide, nearly 22 percent of Colorado’s registered voters have cast their ballots by mail or at early-voting polling places ahead of the Nov. 4 election.
State officials said about 698,000 of the state’s 3.2 million registered voters had cast ballots by Sunday night.
As of late last week, Democrats held a slight edge in early voting, with 219,000 ballots cast, compared with 215,000 cast by Republicans and 131,000 cast by unaffiliated voters.
Those numbers don’t include nearly 128,000 people who have voted since Thursday. Updated party breakdowns won’t be released until next Friday.
On the Net:
Secretary of state’s voting totals page: http://www.elections.colorado.gov/DDefault.aspx?tid=547
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