Vail Valley voters participate in Colorado’s first semi-closed primary; ballots due June 26 | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley voters participate in Colorado’s first semi-closed primary; ballots due June 26

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams spent all kinds of time this spring explaining Colorado primary ballot system. Unafilliated voters can participate in party primaries, but only one. If they vote in more than one, their ballot will be tossed out.

EAGLE — Eagle County Clerk & Recorder Regina O'Brien runs elections, so it should surprise no one that before the historic primary takes place on Tuesday, June 26, she was counting ballots.

Colorado went to mail ballots only a few years back and, this year, is allowing unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in the primary. O'Brien and her staff mailed more than 13,000 ballots to unaffiliated Eagle County voters. Eagle County is home to 30,150 registered voters.

You have until 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 26, to return your ballot.

You do have to choose

Primary ballots were mailed weeks ago. If you're affiliated with a political party, then you received the primary ballot for your party.

If you're unaffiliated, then you were supposed to let the county clerk's office know which party you wanted to vote for in the primary. If you did not let them know, then they mailed you both major party ballots.

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However, you can only vote in one party's primary, O'Brien said.

If you vote in more than one party's primary, then your ballots will be tossed out and your vote will not count, O'Brien said.

Eagle County voters had returned close to 5,700 ballots by closing time Monday, June 25, O'Brien said.

"More than previous primaries, but we sent ballots to a whole new group of voters," she said.

Locally, of those that have been counted so far, early returns look like this:

• 1,301 Republicans.

• 2,140 Democrats.

• 1,607 unaffiliated voters who voted in one primary or the other.

Of those unaffiliated primary voters, O'Brien said there was a 3.35 percent rejection rate — unaffiliated voters who received two ballots and marked up both.

"For the first time around, we're pleased with that," O'Brien said.

Wayne Williams, Colorado Secretary of State, reported that statewide returns by mid-day on Monday were:

• 690,866 Coloradans had voted.

• 267,620 Democrats.

• 261,686 Republicans.

• 161,560 unaffiliated voters.

No ticket splitters

There is no ticket splitting in the primary, Williams said. You have to choose a Republican or Democrat ballot. As always, you can vote for whomever you choose in November, but you can only mark up the Republican or the Democratic ballot for the primary, Williams said.

As for minority party members, such as Libertarians or members of the Green Party, you were mailed a primary ballot only if there is a contested primary in one of your races, Williams said.

Last March, Williams launched the UChooseCO campaign to stress to unaffiliated voters to pick one ballot.

"If a voter returns both the Republican and Democratic ballots and marks up races in each one, neither ballot will count. That's the law," Williams said. "Our goal with this campaign is to let unaffiliated voters know they can participate in the primary election, that they can state a preference for a ballot, and they should only mark one ballot if they get two."

How we got here

Colorado's primary is more semi-closed than open. Statewide voters approved Proposition 108, the semi-closed primary, during the 2016 election.

Proponents argued that opening primaries to independents could boost more moderate candidates and wrest some control from the hardcore partisans who tend to dominate primaries.

Unaffiliated voters are the largest and fastest-growing bloc in Colorado — 37 percent across the state.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Last day to vote

Remember, your ballot has to be in either an office or a drop box by 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 26, for your vote to count. All drop-off locations are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day:

• Grand View Building atop the Lionshead parking structure, Vail

• Clerk and Recorder, 100 West Beaver Creek Blvd., Avon

• Clerk and Recorder, 500 Broadway, Eagle

• Clerk and Recorder, 20 Eagle County Drive, El Jebel

Contested PRIMARIES

The following races are contested in this primary. All other candidates for office are running unopposed and will represent their respective parties in November:

• 2nd Congressional District (Democrat)

• 3rd Congressional District (Democrat) • Governor (Republican and Democrat)

• State Treasurer (Republican and Democrat)

• Attorney General (Democrat)