June 26 Colorado primary election will mail ballots to all registered voters | VailDaily.com

June 26 Colorado primary election will mail ballots to all registered voters

EAGLE — Unaffiliated voters in Colorado no longer have to declare a party preference before they can cast ballots in the state's primary elections.

But those same voters may be a bit confused when they receive both the Democratic and Republican primary ballots in the mail next week. They will get both ballots but they are only allowed submit one.

Proposition 108, which allowed participation for unaffiliated voters in primary elections, was approved by state voters 2016. This June's primary will be the first time in state history that unaffiliated voters will be able to participate in the primary without first choosing to be a member of a particular party.

"There has been a robust education campaign about this statewide," said Eagle County Clerk & Recorder Regina O'Brien.

“We are always happy for increased voter turnout. It will be interesting to see what the participation will be this year. I don’t really think anyone, from across the state, really knows.”Regina O’BrienEagle County Clerk & Recorder

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She noted local and statewide news stories, social media postings, direct mailing and other outreach has been done prior to the primary. "But you can never really reach everyone," O'Brien noted. That's why the ballot packet sent to unaffiliated voters will contain instructions.

"In big red letters, it says voters should only return one of the ballots provided," O'Brien said.

Follow the directions

If, in spite of all of these efforts, a voter proceeds to fill out both the parties' primary ballots, then he or she won't actually get to vote twice. O'Brien said a team of election judges will examine the returned ballots to ensure the eligibility of unaffiliated votes.

But unlike a general election, where turning in more than one ballot is considered voter fraud and such cases are referred to the district attorney, if an affiliated voter turns in ballots for both primaries, then the dual votes will simply not be counted for either primary.

Ballots for the June 26 primary election will be mailed on Monday, June 4. Voters affiliated with the Democratic or Republican party will automatically receive their party's ballot. For the primary Coloradans will choose Republican and Democratic nominees in several open races including governor, attorney general and state treasurer. Sample ballots with the candidates running for each office can be found at http://www.eagle county.us/Clerk/Voting_and_Elections/Upcoming_Elections.

O'Brien said she and her staff are intrigued to see how the new primary rules for unaffiliated voters pan out.

"We are always happy for increased voter turnout," she said. "It will be interesting to see what the participation will be this year. I don't really think anyone, from across the state, really knows."

Election security

While there are some unknowns lurking for this year's primary, O'Brien said election security isn't one of them. O'Brien pointed to an article published earlier this month in The Washington Post that reported Colorado was "paving the way as a leader in election security."

"Colorado has done virtually everything election experts recommend states do to stave off a repeat of 2016, when Russian hackers targeted 21 states as part of the Russian government's massive election interference campaign," reads a May 10 Washington Post article by Derek Hawkins. "The state records every vote on a paper ballot. It conducts rigorous post-election audits favored by voting researchers. Nearly every county is equipped with up-to-date voting machines. Election officials take part in security trainings and IT workers test computer networks for weaknesses."

Hawkins noted that Secretary of State Wayne Williams said Colorado benefited from having some of those measures in place before 2016. Once the extent of Russia's digital campaign in the presidential election became clear, he made it a priority to invest more in them, Hawkins reported.

"If people perceive a risk, they're less likely to participate in voting," Williams is quoted in the article. "We want to protect people from that threat, and we want to people to perceive that they are protected from that threat."

To learn more…

For more information about the June 26 Colorado primary election, contact Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Regina O’Brien at 970-328-8783 or regina.obrien@eaglecounty.us.