The 2020 Presidential election went smoothly, at least in Colorado, despite concerns about possible voter intimidation and riots in the wake of contested results. As in the 2016 election, Colorado went for the Democrats in the presidential race, choosing Joe Biden with 55.8 percent of the vote. Down-ballot races had a few upsets, such as Republican Cory Gardner’s loss to Democrat John Hickenlooper in the Senate race, and Democrat Dianne Mitsch Busch’s loss to Republican Lauren Boebert in Congressional District 3. El Paso County favored incumbents and leaned conservative on ballot measures.
Following a weekend of “MAGA Drag the Interstate” events, which saw lines of trucks sporting Trump flags in cities across the country, including Colorado Springs and Denver, there were concerns of potential voter intimidation at polling sites, but that wasn’t the case in Colorado. A number of businesses, mostly in Denver, took the precautionary step of boarding up stores in the event of unrest following the election. In Colorado Springs, a Rainbow Shops store in Southeast Colorado Springs placed plywood over its windows. An employee who didn’t want to be named said the decision was made at the corporate level, and an employee at the company’s Aurora location confirmed over the phone that they had boarded their windows as well.
According to Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, more than 3 million votes were cast during the election, most of them by mail. The continued success of early mail-in voting in Colorado meant short lines and quick returns on Nov. 3. Rachelle, a 19-year-old first-time voter found the process to be easy. “The wait was only a couple minutes,” she says. “I actually had to register because I hadn’t registered yet.” Colorado is one of 19 states that allows same-day voter registration.
For Rachelle, concern about the direction of the country prompted her to vote. “I’ve kind of always been like, ‘Meh,’ about it,” she says, “but I don’t like the way that things are going. I feel like this election is going to make a huge difference if everybody was to vote. Plus, my daughter is biracial so I want her to have a better world to grow up in.”
While Colorado Dems opted for virtual watch parties, local Republicans hosted an intimate, and largely maskless, media-only event at Prime 25 steakhouse. Congressman Doug Lamborn, who successfully defended his Congressional District 5 seat from Democrat Jillian Freeland, discussed early results with the Indy. “I was hoping Cory Gardner was going to make a closer run of it with John Hickenlooper,” he said. “That’s disappointing to me, personally, because I know Cory did a great job, in my opinion. Trump never really built up his popularity in Colorado like in some parts of the country, for whatever reason. I think that hurt Cory Gardner.”
Colorado has been considered a “purple state,” but has been trending blue in recent years. “It seems to be, the last couple cycles, have definitely favored the Democrats,” admitted Lamborn. “In 2022 it’s going to be a wide-open issue when we have reapportionment of state legislative districts and congressional districts. That could introduce a whole new ballgame to Colorado.”
Republican District 4 County Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez Jr., who defeated Democrat Andre Vigil, was a little more optimistic. “I still think there’s some purple in there,” he said. “I think afterwards it will be very interesting to see what the numbers are showing, if we’re trending more towards blue or stabilizing and staying firm. That’s an important question for everybody.”
Gonzalez noted the lack of surprises in El Paso County races. “The races that Republicans normally win look like they’re going to win,” he said, “and the races that Democrats, locally, normally win look like they’re going to win, so it looks like El Paso County is largely in line with tradition.”
Democratic incumbents Tony Exum Sr. (House District 17) and Marc Snyder (House District 18) defended their seats against Republican challengers, while Republican incumbents Shane Sandridge (House District 14), Dave Williams (House District 15), Tim Geitner (House District 19), Terri Carver (House District 20), and Mary Bradfield (House District 21) defeated their Democratic opponents. Republican Andres Pico defeated Democrat Stephanie Vigil in House District 16, and Republican Larry Liston, the former House District 16 representative, won his race against Democrat Randi McCallian in Colorado’s Senate District 10. Incumbent Republican Bob Gardner beat Democrat Electra Johnson in the state’s Senate District 12.
Colorado voters supported wolves, narrowly approving Proposition 114, and denied restrictions on abortion, defeating Proposition 115. Voters also supported repealing the Gallagher Amendment, which will prevent future cuts to property taxes, something supporters say will help funding for schools and local governments. Colorado Springs voters also supported Ballot Measure 2A, which will allow the city to keep $2 million in 2019 revenue over the limit set by TABOR. City voters also approved Ballot Measures 2B and 2C, which require a public vote before any transfer of parkland (2B), and a supermajority of City Council to approve such a proposal (2C). In a news release, Mayor John Suthers said, “I’d like to thank the voters for overwhelmingly passing Ballot Measure 2A tonight, which will considerably speed up our city’s economic recovery and return us to the trajectory of positive growth that we were experiencing prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The voters’ support means that we can move more quickly to a full economic recovery without compromising vital city services. This will allow us to maintain the incredible quality of life that we have come to appreciate here in Colorado Springs.”