Colorado voters — including independents — set to help decide ‘Super Tuesday’ outcome March 3
Colorado voters — regardless of political stripe, or lack thereof — potentially have a big say in this year’s presidential primaries, as the state officially joins the “Super Tuesday” lineup March 3.
County clerks around the state are mailing ballots to qualified voters this week. Garfield County Clerk Jean Alberico is mailing out 32,289 ballots for the Democratic and Republican primaries to be decided that day.
But the voting isn’t just limited to Republican or Democratic party affiliates.
Colorado voters in 2016 overwhelmingly supported Proposition 107, by a margin of 64%, to bring the presidential primary back to Colorado for the first time since 2000. Previously, the presidential primaries in Colorado took place in late June, when the nominations had often all-but-been decided.
Also in 2016, state voters approved Proposition 108, opening the state’s primary elections for all political offices, not just president, to unaffiliated voters for the first time in history.
Anyone who was registered with the Republican or Democratic party as of Feb. 3 should receive their respective party’s ballot in the mail ahead of the presidential primary vote.
In addition, unaffiliated voters should receive two ballots, one Democratic and one Republican, but only one of which can be cast, according to the rules for independent voters to participate.
The Colorado ballots include 17 Democrats who are vying for the party’s nomination and six Republicans, including President Donald Trump. However, some candidates have dropped out since the ballots were printed.
Garfield County Democratic Party Chairman John Krousouloudis said he welcomes the independent vote to the process.
“I think it’s a good thing, because for various people, while they might lean Democrat or Republican, they’re registered unaffiliated,” Krousouloudis said. “It’s a good way to see for sure which candidate is preferred across a wider population.
“Garfield County is very diverse politically — a little microcosm of the country — so personally I’m interested to see which way it comes out.”
At the same time, he said there has been some education for voters to distinguish between the presidential primary and the state primaries on June 30. That’s where nominations for U.S. Senate and the 3rd Congressional District will ultimately be decided.
Beyond the March 3 presidential primary, Krousouloudis said the local party is focused on the countywide caucuses March 7 and the party assembly in April, where nominations for county and state offices will take place.
Independent voters will also have their chance to weigh in on that process, as well, as they did in the 2018 mid-term elections.
Randy Fricke, co-founder and lead organizer for the Western Colorado Independent Voters, notes that independent voters represent 36% of the registered voters in Colorado. Nationally, that number is 46% of the registered voters.
“I see the role of independent voters in Colorado and the nation as deal-breakers or candidate makers,” Fricke said. “If you look at the ‘blue wave’ in the 2018 elections, there were a lot of independent voters electing Democrats.
“The ranks of the independent voters continue to grow nationally, as many Americans are fed up with the status quo of the Democratic Party and Republican Party.”
According to a news release from Garfield County election officials, if an unaffiliated voter returns more than one ballot, those votes will not be counted.
In addition to opening the primaries to unaffiliated voters, young voters who are now 17, but will be 18 by the general election in November, can vote in the presidential primary if they have registered.
Anyone currently registered with a third party, such as the Libertarian or Green parties, will not receive a ballot and cannot participate in the presidential primary as no third parties are participating in the primary, according to election officials.
All ballots must be received by 7 p.m. March 3 to be counted. Feb. 24 is the last day ballots can be mailed to voters.
After that date, voters must appear in person at a voting center to obtain a ballot.
Ballot drop-off sites are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Rifle.
Voter Service and Polling Centers are available in Glenwood Springs and Rifle starting Feb. 24, as well as on Saturday, Feb. 29, for in-person early voting.
Polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Super Tuesday across Colorado.