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An Analysis of Broadband Voting Patterns in Loveland
Richard F. Toftness  February 20, 2018

“Things get done only if the data we gather can inform and inspire those in a position to make a difference.To do so it must be understood and honestly applied” 

During the council meeting of February 6th, my interest was piqued by the comments by Councilor Olson. He stated that because of the low turnout on Ballot 2C in 2015 he thought it was unfair that 30% of Loveland voters would put 70% of the people in Loveland at risk for a 100 m$ bond. It is true that 82.8% of the people that voted on that day voted Yes on 2C. Olson makes an interesting point that if the turnout was low this large majority would be a questionable representation of Loveland at large. So let’s take a closer look at the data.

Possibly this was an aberration, a fluke in the voting pattern of the people of Loveland. From 2015 to 2017 the number of registered voters in the City of Loveland increased by 20.3% to 54419. With this healthy increase in the number of potential voters, the turnout for the 2015 election may be less than the interest in the current city election.

Let’s examine voter interest by calculating the percentage of votes placed for Ballot 2C compared to winners of the 2017 election.

In 2015 registered voters approved Ballot Proposition 2C which gave the City permission to pursue Municipal Broadband.  Of all the voters that cast ballots that day, 82.8% voted Yes. From examining the voting patterns several ways, it appears that the response to Proposition 2C was very strong, much stronger than what has been experienced even in the most recent election and demonstrates an excellent representation of the wishes of the people of Loveland.

Plato stated that “A good decision is based on knowledge, not numbers”.  Knowledge is gained by understanding the context of data, not by selectively interrupting numbers to support a personal point of view. 
If the votes are summed for all councilors and for the mayoral race a different story emerges. There were 2279 and 3497 more votes for 2C than for the council or mayor positions respectively. The implication is that the voter turnout for 2C was very good.

In fact, thousands of people took the opportunity to vote for the broadband issue while not taking the time to vote for any one of the council candidates or the mayor.

The number of voters that turned out for the Ballot 2C, even with the increase in the number of potential voters, is still far greater than for either the 2017 council or mayoral races. The numbers of voters that turned out for 2C still topped all the votes for councilors by 5909 votes and for the mayoral race by 3276.

Even with the healthy increase in potential voters the 2C ballot issue experienced a high level of voter participation.

38.6% of registered voters positively supported Ballot Issue 2C by voting Yes. 8% voted No.
For the recent council elections, the positive support varied from 21% for Clark to 15.3% for Marsh. The lower percentages for Wright and Marsh may be explained as both were three-way races and the high percentage for Clark maybe because he ran unopposed. But even taking those differences into account the percentage range of votes is quite tight for all city elected positions.