Eagle County’s 2020 election season will begin in March
Colorado this year becomes a 'Super Tuesday' state, with a presidential primary on March 3
- March 3: Presidential primary
- March 7: County caucuses
- June 30: Primary for state and local offices
- Nov. 3: General election day
EAGLE COUNTY — If you tell Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Regina O’Brien that it’s a little early to be talking about this year’s elections, she’ll just laugh.
O’Brien is in charge of the county’s elections. She and her staff are already waist-deep in preparing for all the voting — and its attendant paperwork — to come this year.
That voting starts with the March 3 presidential primary. That primary puts Colorado into a multi-state “Super Tuesday” group that will select a large group of delegates to both the Democratic and Republican national conventions.
While President Donald Trump is almost certain to earn the Republican Party’s nomination for a second term, O’Brien noted there are six candidates on that party’s primary ballot.
The picture is more jumbled on the Democratic ballot. O’Brien said at the moment there are 17 names on that ballot. And, she added, the ballot may see another name or two added to the list. The current preliminary ballot also features a couple of candidates who have announced their withdrawal from the race, but haven’t yet filed the appropriate state paperwork. If withdrawn candidates’ names end up on the final ballot, votes for them won’t be counted.
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Just about any registered voter can participate in the presidential primary.
O’Brien said that a 2016 state ballot measure opened party primaries to unaffiliated voters. Those with a party preference can check their voter registration on the state’s GoVoteColorado.gov website. People can request a party-specific ballot on that site. The deadline is Feb. 3 to make that request.
Registered voters who don’t make that request will receive presidential primary ballots from both parties. But a ballot can be returned for only one party. If you submit ballots for both parties, neither ballot will be counted.
Turning toward local
The March 3 presidential primary is for presidential preference only. The state’s local and state nomination process starts on March 7, when both Republicans and Democrats hold their county caucuses.
Eagle County Republican chairwoman Kaye Ferry said Republicans will hold their caucuses in Eagle and Basalt. Melissa Decker, Ferry’s Democratic Party counterpart, said that party will meet at Vail, EagleVail, Edwards, Eagle, Gypsum and Basalt.
Those caucuses are the start of the local political year. That’s where party members select people to participate in county assemblies at the end of March.
Those gatherings will discuss party platforms and nominees for county and state offices.
Only three county offices are on this year’s ballot. County voters will select two county commissioners, and help pick the Fifth Judicial District Attorney.
At the county level, incumbent Democrats Matt Scherr and Kathy Chandler-Henry are expected to seek re-election.
District Attorney Bruce Brown is term-limited and can’t run again. Deputy District Attorney Heidi McCollum, a Democrat, has announced she’s seeking the job.
No Republican has yet announced a run for that office.
There are no declared candidates yet for the county commission positions. And no one yet has announced a challenge for House District 26. That seat in the Colorado Legislature is currently held by Democrat Dylan Roberts.
Ferry said she’s talked with several people about running for those offices. But, she added, she expects people to make their candidacies official later this year.
Ferry said candidates recently have tended to make “last-minute” announcements at county assemblies.
From local to state
Those who participate in the March 3 caucuses and subsequent county assemblies can then be picked to participate in the parties’ state conventions, to be held in April.
Those conventions will finalize candidates to participate in the state’s primary election, set for June 30.
That primary will winnow candidates for offices around the state, as well as county offices if needed.
The biggest state primary race is likely to be the Democrats’ selection of a challenger to incumbent Republican Sen. Cory Gardner.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, Third Congressional District incumbent Scott Tipton, a Republican, and Second Congressional District incumbent Joe Neguse, a Democrat, are expected to defend their seats. Both representatives’ districts include portions of Eagle County.
Check your address
If you’re voting in either the presidential or state primaries, O’Brien encouraged voters to check the address in their voter registration information.
O’Brien noted that a number of voters are out of town before November elections, and have ballots mailed to where they’ll be then. Those people need to ensure their correct mailing address is included in their voter registration information.
Another change this year applies to those casting their first votes. People who are 17 now, but will turn 18 before the Nov. 3 general election, can vote in the presidential and state primaries.
O’Brien urged people voting in any of the primary or general elections not to wait until the last minute. Ballots returned by mail must be delivered to the clerk and recorder’s office no later than 7 p.m. on those election days.
But, O’Brien said, most voters use the county’s five 24-hour drop boxes. And, she added, voter information is available both on the county’s website and from people in clerk and recorder’s offices in Eagle, El Jebel and Avon.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-748-2930.