Denver elections chief: Move election or use ranked-choice voting

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Clerk Paul Lopez says Denver should either move its May elections to April to allow for more time to get out ballots for runoffs, or, use ranked-choice voting.

DENVER — Denver’s chief elections officer is suggesting modifications to address a timing conflict in the municipal elections.

The city’s charter does not keep up with modern elections, according to Democratic Clerk and Recorder Paul Lopez. Specifically, Lopez said the current model conflicts with Colorado election laws that mandate a 45-day deadline for military and Americans living abroad to receive their ballot.

This makes it difficult for Denver Elections to get out ballots on time for a June runoff, as the city had in its last mayoral election.

To address the concern, Lopez this week suggested the city adopt one of two changes: move the May elections to April, to allow for more time to get out runoff ballots, or implement ranked-choice voting. 

Such a system requires voters to rank their choices on a ballot rather than selecting one option, creating an instant runoff system.

New York City is currently making ranked-choice voting look messier than it is, but critics in Denver could point to their 2021 mayoral election as a reason to oppose that method.

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“My office has analyzed and concluded that both models are viable options, and we are prepared to administer either option with the standard of excellence our office is known for,” Lopez said in a press release regarding the recommendations.

These proposals follow a year of discussions with a Charter Review Committee that considered alternative options and public feedback. The committee was made of:

  • Michael Cummings Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Colorado Denver – Clerk Appointee
  • Hon. Kevin Flynn, Denver City Council District 2 – Council Appointee
  • Hon. Stacie Gilmore, City Council President, District 11 – Council Appointee
  • Mark Grueskin, Esq., Shareholder, Recht Kornfeld PC – Clerk Appointee
  • Hon. Stephanie O’Malley, Esq., Associate Vice Chancellor for Government and Community Relations, University of Denver – Clerk Appointee
  • Gena Ozols, Field Director, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights – Clerk Appointee
  • Alan Salazar, Esq., Chief of Staff for Mayor Michael Hancock – Mayoral Appointee

Denver City Council would have to approve either option.

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