DENVER – The early-voting lead for Colorado Democrats has all-but disappeared just four days before Election Day.
Registered Republicans again Thursday narrowed the gap between the number of ballots they have submitted so far and the number of votes submitted by Democrats.
As of Thursday morning, the gap was 14,000 votes. But as of Friday morning, Democrats have only submitted about 7,000 more than Republicans.
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office updates the number of ballots returned via mail and votes made in-person each day, and breaks down the votes by which party each person who submitted a ballot is registered for.
Every ballot is categorized by each voter’s registration and does not say how a person voted. Colorado law allowed county clerks to start counting ballots on Oct. 24.
The county clerk's offices open the ballots, check their signatures to validate them, and scan the results. However, the results will not be tallied or released until after the polls close on Nov. 8.
Though Democrats have led the voting tally since ballots first started being tallied on Oct. 24, they submitted fewer ballots Thursday than Republicans and unaffiliated voters for the first time in the early-voting period.
Democrats submitted 45,402 votes Thursday, compared to 45,992 from unaffiliated voters and 53,018 from Republicans.
Early ballot submissions statewide amount to 1,553,325 as of Friday morning – approximately 47.5 of the state’s electorate.
In the last presidential election in 2012, 71 percent of Coloradans voted. Republicans led the early vote throughout that period before a late surge by Democrats, though this election is the first presidential election in which Colorado has used an all-mail-in ballot system.
The percentage of registered Republicans who have already voted (53.1 percent) is also now nearly-identical to the percentage of Democrats who have voted (53.25 percent). Of unaffiliated voters, 37.6 percent have already submitted ballots.
Unaffiliated voters represent Colorado’s largest voting electorate, with 1.14 million registered voters as of Nov. 1.
Four of the counties Denver7 is keeping an eye on have already equaled or topped 50 percent voter turnout: Boulder County (50 percent); Douglas County (50.4 percent); Jefferson County (51 percent) and La Plata County (53.3 percent).
A higher percentage of registered Republicans than Democrats have now voted in Adams, Arapahoe, El Paso and Weld counties. Democrats continue to have higher turnout in Boulder, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson, La Plata and Larimer counties.
A poll released Wednesday by the University of Denver showed Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in a dead heat in a four-way race.
And a Magellan Strategies poll released Thursday shows Clinton leads Trump by six points, 44-38 percent.
That comes as both campaigns have entered full-court press mode in Colorado – sending either themselves or a pool of surrogates to the state in the final week before Election Day.