Register to vote in primaries by Monday
Coloradans who intend to vote in the August primaries need to make sure they register by Monday.
That’s the deadline to register as a Republican, Democrat or Libertarian in order to cast a ballot in the Aug. 10 primaries. Voters also can register as unaffiliated and change to one of the parties by the primary, but state law bars registered party members from switching their affiliation until after the primary.
This year’s primary is unique in that most of the state’s counties will conduct them by mail.
There are 46 counties, including all in the region except Moffat, that have opted to use all-mail ballots. Six others are using vote centers, and the remaining 12 have stuck with the traditional precinct voting.
“This is the first time for a primary that we’re going to do a vote by mail,” Mesa County Clerk Janice Rich said. “Obviously, we’re not having to deploy a lot of voting equipment or hire lots of election judges, but historically when we do a vote-by-mail election, we have a pretty good turnout.”
Rich said the 2008 primary race resulted in a dismal 24 percent turnout, but she expects a much higher one this year.
She said the county will save about $250,000 by using the all-mail ballot compared to the traditional method.
“When you look at 24 percent voting, but yet we put together a full-blown election, a lot of expense went to that to have such a poor showing,” Rich said. “We made a presentation to the county commission and went through our 15-day period for public comment and only heard from 12 people. Eight of those were in favor of vote by mail.”
A higher turnout and the prevailing public sentiment about this year’s races in both major parties could produce some interesting results, the leaders of the state’s Democratic and Republican parties said.
Because 10 of the state’s 11 largest counties are going all-mail, more than 80 percent of the electorate could end up casting ballots next month, said Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.
“We’re in uncharted territory on this primary,” Wadhams said. “There’s no doubt there will be people, because (ballots) arrived in their mail boxes, who will vote who would not have voted otherwise. The question is: Is this going to be a massive number of people, or a modest number? I don’t know.”
When the primary is over the real work begins for Wadhams and Colorado Democratic Party Chairwoman Pat Waak. Both will be charged with getting their respective parties in sync with whoever wins the primary races, and that work will include targeting those voters who did cast a ballot in August.
“We will be getting the files as quickly as we can to see who those people were that voted, so that the campaigns can follow up for the general election,” Waak said. “The real issue for everyone is to get out the vote by then.”
July 19 is the earliest day counties are allowed to mail ballots to registered voters for this year’s primary.