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Haul-N-Votes: You can vote in person in Denver's mobile voting vans

Most Colorado voters return their mailed ballots, and in an odd-year election, in-person voting is even rarer. But Denver has mobile voting units, just in case.

DENVER — Odd-year elections have low voter turnout.

Elections in any year have low voter turnout in person compared to the number of people who vote with their mailed ballot. In Colorado, the majority of voters who cast ballots return their mail ballots versus voting in-person.

Yet, the city of Denver has just deployed a second mobile voting unit.

"Our voting centers are not just polling places. You can go and request a ballot. You can go and update your information," said Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul Lopez.

The Voting Coach was located at the Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales Library on Tuesday. The $285,000 vehicle/voting center was paid for with a federal Urban Area Strategic Initiative grant from the Department of Homeland Security.

On Wednesday, it will be at the Montclair Recreation Center. On Friday and Saturday it will go to the Central Park Recreation Center. On Monday and Election Day, it will be at the Emily Griffith Technical College.

Credit: 9NEWS

But why is it needed in an odd-year election?

In 2019, 164,000 people voted in Denver. That is just about two-out-of-five active voters. Of those who voted, only 3,278, or 2%, voted in-person.

"It increases access for us no matter what zip code you live in," said Lopez.

Denver already has a mobile voting unit called "Haul-n-Votes." It is also for one-on-one voting for private eyes. (Points to you if you picked up on the Hall & Oates references). That mobile voting unit was at the University of Denver (DU) on Tuesday. On Wednesday, that will be at the Washington Park Recreation Center. On Friday and Saturday, it moves to the Scheitler Recreation Center. And on Monday and Election Day, it will be at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

While Haul-n-Votes was at DU on Tuesday, it actually saw people voting in-person.

"I saw the voting stand here on campus and decided to just go vote in person, and I was just really excited about it," said DU freshman Annabelle Kiely. "Because I was here on campus, I just thought it would be quicker and easier to vote in person."

She and DU sophomore Ana Lopez Muniz voted in-person instead of filling out their mail-in ballots.

"I still would have voted. I probably would have voted a lot later, but yeah, I still would have voted," said Lopez Muniz. "I just think voting in person is a lot better."

"There's a possibility I would have forgotten if I hadn't seen this here on campus," said Kiely.

It seems people forget, or just do not care, statewide.

RELATED: Voter Guide 2021: Everything you need to know about the election in Colorado

In Jefferson County in 2019, just 1,801 votes out of 195,000 were in-person. That's fewer than one percent of votes.

"When you ask how do we reach out to voters? Number one is we send a ballot to every single voter," said Jefferson County Clerk & Recorder George Stern.

Jefferson County also has a mobile voting unit. The county utilized it during the 2020 election because of COVID, but this year it is not in use.

"We found that our mobile vote center makes a lot more sense, in say, a June primary, when everyone's out and about because it's beautiful June in Colorado more so than a November general election when it's starting to get cold here, and the mountains are getting their snow and people are spending less time outside," said Stern.

His outreach has been getting to where the people are. Specifically, Jefferson County breweries.

"We had these cool coasters, they're still out at a lot of breweries, that had a QR code on them that let people go to the voter registration site," said Stern.

Since 2018, Jefferson County has added more drop boxes, going from 15 to 36.

In Arapahoe County in 2019, almost 2,400 votes out of 162,000 were cast in-person. That's not quite one-and-a-half percent.

"We actually have 50,000 more active registered voters this year than we did back in 2019," said Arapahoe County Elections Director Peg Perl. "Over 95% of our voters in Arapahoe County use their mail ballot in every election, and the percentage is even higher in these odd-year elections. It's closer to 98%-99%.

Arapahoe County now has 34 ballot drop boxes

"We've increased the number of drop boxes. We do have fewer vote centers, but that's because we have less people who want to vote in person," said Perl.

Unlike Haul-n-Votes, The Voting Coach does not have a cute nickname. Have an idea? Email next@9news.com.

Election Day is Nov. 2. It is now too late to return your ballot in the mail to be sure it will be received on time. Use this interactive map to find a ballot drop box or voting center near you.

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