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Denver Question 2H: Should the city move municipal elections a month earlier?

The question on the Denver ballot on Nov. 2 asks if Denver municipal elections should be moved from May to April.

DENVER — This story is part of a series of statewide ballot issue reviews we're calling "We Don't Have To Agree, But Let's Just Vote."  We'll continue to look at statewide ballot initiatives on Colorado's ballot and how they would impact you.

Click here for more Voter Guide coverage for the 2021 election.

Denver Referred Question 2H

Denver is asking its voters whether general elections for city races like mayor and City Council should be moved a month earlier, to the first Tuesday in April.

Here's the language on the ballot:

Shall the Charter of the City and County of Denver be amended to move the general election for the City and County of Denver from the first Tuesday in May of odd-numbered years to the first Tuesday in April of odd-numbered years to bring the City and County of Denver into compliance with federal and state laws for mailing June runoff election ballots to military and overseas citizens ballots forty-five days before Election Day? 

Click here to see a sample ballot for the City and County of Denver.

Yes or no?

A YES vote means you want the city to move municipal general elections from the first Tuesday in May to the first Tuesday in April.

A NO vote means you want the city to keep its municipal general elections on the first Tuesday in May. 

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What it means

Denver municipal elections are for the mayor, auditor, clerk and City Council members, and they happen every four years. The last election was in 2019, and the next one is in 2023. Historically, the city has held a general election in May and, if necessary, a runoff election in June.

State and federal laws require that ballots for military and overseas voters be sent out 45 days before an election, and that includes ballots for a runoff election. As municipal elections are currently scheduled, there's not much time between the general election and the runoff to get those ballots sent out.

To fix the problem, the city had two options: move the general election to an earlier date, or change the format of the election to a ranked-choice vote.

Under a ranked-choice vote, voters rank candidates in order of preference. This option doesn't require a runoff election; however, the city said the winners often don't get a majority of the votes.

Referred Question 2H offers up the other option, which is to move the general election a month earlier and give Denver Elections more time to get runoff ballots to military and overseas voters.

Proponents say an earlier general election is the simpler choice for bringing the city into compliance with state and federal laws, and that this isn't the right time to overhaul the city's elections with a complicated new voting system.

Opponents say a ranked-choice vote is the better choice. They say holding a runoff election is more expensive and is an opportunity for special interest money to buy off candidates.

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