On Tuesday, March 3, Colorado joins 14 other states and territories in a push to nominate presidential candidates for this year’s November election.
This is the first time voters in the state get to participate in a presidential primary. Molly Fitzpatrick, Boulder County’s Clerk and Recorder, tells KGNU’s Lucy Haggard, this is just one of the changes we’re seeing in elections this year as a result of Proposition 107.
Listen to the report below:
“So in 2016 voters initiated two changes, the first of which was to switch from a caucus to a primary system for nominating president, the second of which was allowing unaffiliated voters to participate in primaries,” Fitzpatrick explains.
Unaffiliated voters can participate in the primaries, but according to the Secretary of State’s website, they may only return one party’s ballot. Returning two voted ballots will result in neither ballot counting.
Fitzpatrick says the introduction of a primary for the presidential race has not replaced the caucus system which still exists, particularly as a tool to nominate party leadership.
“So think of things like precinct captains. [We] are encouraging people to reach out to their parties for information on how to participate in the caucus.”
Candidates for every office except president, e.g. state representative and county commissioner — must either collect signatures or go through caucus and assembly to get on the June 30 primary ballot.
Another change in this year’s election sees 17-year-olds being given the opportunity to participate in the primaries as long as they turn 18 by the general election.
Michael Carter, Communications Manager for New Era Colorado, which works to mobilize young voters, says this is a result of lobbying done at the state legislature in previous sessions, which led to the passage of the Colorado Votes Act in 2019.
“So for context, there’s 50,000 eligible 17-year-olds and 26,000 of those 17-year-olds are already registered to vote,” say Carter.
Carter says New Era Colorado is working to educate as many as those young voters as possible on their right to participate in the primary and general elections.
“They take it really seriously, but … they just need a little bit of encouragement to say, yeah, you do know enough. You need to make sure that your voice is heard and that you actually show up in this election.”
Several candidates who are on the Democratic primary ballot have dropped out of the race, but Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Molly Fitzpatrick says that If people have already voted for a candidate who has now dropped out, they cannot cast a new vote.
“So once a person votes and turns in their ballot to our office and we receive it, that’s it. We cannot give ballots back once they’re in our office. If you have any doubts and you want to wait it out to see who stays in, you know, hold your ballot. We do love early voters, but we also understand that things are changing very quickly right now.”
Colorado Secretary of State Jenna Griswold tweeted on Monday that if people have marked their ballot for a candidate that has dropped out of the race they can change their selection before returning their ballot.
If you have
marked a ballot but have not returned it, you can change your selection
by crossing out your first pick and then marking the oval next to your
preferred candidate. Or, you can get a replacement ballot in-person at a
VSPC. Visit https://t.co/OQ2SXOeniQ.
Jena Griswold (@JenaGriswold) March
- You can find a list of voting centers or ballot drop off locations at govotecolorado.gov.
- The Colorado Democratic Party local precinct caucuses will be held on March 7th beginning at 2pm statewide.
- Find out precinct location information for the Democratic caucus here.
- The Colorado GOP local precinct caucuses will be held on March 7th beginning at 10am statewide.
- Find out precinct location information for the Republican caucus here.