Colorado Secretary of State’s Office urges unaffiliated voters to participate in primaries for first time |

Colorado Secretary of State’s Office urges unaffiliated voters to participate in primaries for first time

Jack Queen

Colorado’s unaffiliated voters will be able to vote in primary elections for the first time ever this June but will only be allowed to cast ballots for a single party’s nomination races.

The new rules stem from an open primaries ballot question approved by voters in 2016, and now Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has launched a campaign to educate Coloradans about the change and urge them to exercise their new right.

UChooseCO, launched last week, reminds voters that they will receive two primary ballots — one Republican and one Democrat — but are only allowed to vote on one. If both are filled out, neither will count. The secretary’s office is hoping to head off any possible confusion about the new process.

“We have never to my knowledge at any point sent you a ballot and said, ‘Don’t vote it.’ Never,” Williams said in a news release.

Alternatively, voters can pick which ballot they want to receive ahead of time through a new portal on the Secretary of State’s website. Voters who are already registered as Republicans or Democrats do not need to take any action to receive their primary ballots.

Unaffiliated voters are the largest voting bloc in Colorado, the latest voter registration records show. Of the state’s 3.2 million active voters, 36 percent are unaffiliated, 31 percent are Democrat and 30.7 percent are Republican.

Summit County is no exception, with more than 8,400 unaffiliated voters compared to roughly 5,800 Democrats and 4,100 Republicans.

The political implications of open primaries this year are unclear, but the Summit County Clerk and Recorder’s Office estimated it could cost an additional $20,000 to send out all of the extra ballots this year.

The Democratic gubernatorial primary is currently a tight race between U.S. Rep. Jared Polis and former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy.

Kennedy fared well at precinct caucuses last month, winning more than half of the state total. But Polis still held a narrow, 27-to-23 in a recent poll.

The Republican field for governor, meanwhile, is wide open, and polling shows that far more likely voters are still undecided.

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