Vail’s voter turnout best ever with mail-in ballots
The 40% turnout the highest ever for a municipal election
Some in Vail have been lobbying to shift the town to a mail-in election for years. That seems to have worked this year.
This year, for the first time, the town participated in the Eagle County consolidated election, which included contests throughout the county and its towns. The result of that participation was a record turnout, both in terms of ballots cast and turnout percentage of registered voters.
The results won’t be official for a couple of weeks, but won’t change much from this: 1,814 Vail residents voted, which is 40.5% of registered voters in town. Both are the highest figures for a municipal election since at least 1985.
General elections, in which state and federal offices are contested, are a different story. The 2020 general election saw the highest-ever turnout in town: 3,408 ballots cast, an 85% voter turnout.
For years, general elections in Colorado have been conducted via mail and drop box. That’s part of what has led residents to advocate for the town to take a similar path.
On the other hand, there have been people in town who revel in the old-school feel of showing up to vote in person at Vail Town Hall.
“I get that, and it’s not bad… it’s a beautiful feeling when Vail acts like a real town and you see everybody,” resident Mark Gordon said. Gordon is a former Town Council member and has served on other town boards and commissions.
While Gordon said he understands the feel-good elements of voting in person, having more people participate is better.
“I’m so happy about us going to a mail-in ballot,” Gordon said. He added mail-in voting in Colorado works well, and “having more people participate is a fantastic goal unto itself.”
Vail Town Council member Jen Mason was also happy to see this week’s turnout numbers.
“It was fun to see,” Mason said, noting that the turnout may indicate higher participation from younger voters.
“The younger (Town Council) candidates worked really hard,” Mason said. “It gets that younger generation, and we need them to get involved. They live here.”
By the numbers
Here are the top four vote totals in Vail municipal elections since 1985:
2021: 1,814 ballots cast.
2005: 1,356 ballots cast.
2019: 1,102 ballots cast.
1999: 1,075 ballots cast.
Sources: Town of Vail, Eagle County