Denver Clerk and Recorder Urges Mayor for Budget Transparency

Published on October 06, 2023

Denver Clerk and Recorder Urges Mayor for Budget Transparency

Elected Clerk and Recorder Paul López requests that Mayor Mike Johnston reconsider proposed election security budget cuts in accordance with Denver City Charter

DENVER, CO - On Thursday, October 5, Clerk López issued a second formal request for additional elections space and security upgrades. This letter notes that the Denver Elections Division has critically urgent needs for capital security and space upgrades. In order to comply with recommendations from the Department of Homeland Security and recently enacted state law and rule, the Denver Elections Division has requested the use of and funding for the mostly vacant third floor of our building at 200 W. 14th Ave.  

“The good thing,” López says, “is that when Denver voters created the Office of the Clerk and Recorder as an independently elected position, they required the City Council to fully fund elections operations per Denver City Charter.”

In response to the letter, the Mayor’s Office said that our office would receive a 25% increase in annual funding. However, in 2024, we expect voter turnout to increase by at least 50% due to the presidential election. A 25% increase in funding is a reasonable expense considering our expectations of dramatically higher voter turnout during a presidential election cycle. 

Our regular yearly elections budget fluctuates based on the number and type of elections that will be held that year. The 25% increase includes essential voting equipment replacements, wages for 2000 election judges and inflationary costs. This funding is independent from our capital expenditures ask, which was reduced by 81% ($175,000 instead of $942,000) in the budget proposed by the Mayor’s Office. Capital expenditures, unlike annual budgets, are a one-time investment in the building and security.

Given the collaboration and responsiveness of our agency’s communications with the previous mayoral administration, the Denver Elections Division of the Office of the Clerk and Recorder was surprised by the cuts to our requests proposed by newly elected Mayor Johnston. In response to these proposed cuts, López said, “It was surprising that our security upgrades request in the 2024 budget was reduced by 81.3% without being warned or given other options.”

Nonetheless, our office remains hopeful that Mayor Johnston will:

  • Bring more transparency to the budgeting process, clarifying what he does and does not intend to fund
  • Honor the Denver City Charter, requiring the City Council to fully fund elections operations
  • Work collaboratively and in concert with the Office of the Clerk and Recorder to ensure that 2024 elections continue to be secure, transparent, and accessible

Clerk López is eager to engage in collaborative, productive discourse with the Mayor’s Office concerning enhanced security for our building, our resources, and our personnel in preparation for the 2024 elections.