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Colorado’s 2020 presidential primary ballots are hitting the mail. Here’s what you need to know.

The March 3 contest will be Colorado’s first presidential primary election in 20 years

A 2018 Colorado ballot. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)
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County clerks across Colorado can begin sending 2020 presidential primary ballots to the state’s 3.9 million registered voters on Monday.

Voters have until 7 p.m. on March 3, deemed Super Tuesday because so many state primaries fall on that day, to return their ballots. 

This will be Colorado’s first presidential primary in 20 years after voters decided in 2016, through Proposition 107, to do away with the caucus system for picking parties’ presidential nominees.

Here’s what you need to know about voting in the upcoming election:

You may get two ballots, but you can only vote one

If you’re registered as an unaffiliated voter and you didn’t request either a Democratic or Republican presidential primary ballot, you will receive both in the mail. 

You may only fill out and return one — either the Democratic or Republican — of those ballots. If you try to fill out and return both, the ballots will be rejected and neither of the votes will be counted.

VOTER GUIDE: Where the Democratic presidential candidates stand on Colorado issues

Your decision to choose to vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary will not change your voter registration. However, the primary contest you vote in is part of the public record.

If you are registered as a Democrat or Republican, you will receive only the presidential primary ballot for your party’s candidates. 

People who wanted to switch their party affiliation to vote in the other party’s primary had until Feb. 3 to make the change. Coloradans who aren’t yet registered to vote can still do so through March 3.

Denver voters cast ballots on Nov. 8, 2018 (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

If you’re 17, you may be able to vote

Coloradans who are 17 now but will be age 18 by Nov. 3, the date of the 2020 general election, can vote in the presidential primary.

Teens who have already preregistered (they can do so starting at age 16) should receive a primary ballot in the mail. Otherwise, they will need to contact their county clerk to preregister and get a ballot. 

MORE: Why we won’t know which Democratic presidential candidate won Colorado on Super Tuesday

What if a candidate leaves the race?

While most Colorado voters wait until just before Election Day to return their ballots, some like to cast their votes as soon as possible. 

That means there’s a possibility that Colorado voters could vote for a primary candidate who exits the race after the ballots were mailed. 

There are several candidates in the large Democratic field for whom Tuesday’s New Hampshire presidential primary could be a make-or-break moment. That includes U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat who says how he fares in the Granite State will determine whether he moves forward with his presidential candidacy.

Bennet is already on Colorado’s 2020 presidential primary ballot, so should he exit the race before March 3 anyone who casts a vote for him in his home state will be out of luck. The vote will be counted, but because Bennet is no longer in the race it, effectively, will mean nothing. 

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What else will be on the ballot?

Nothing. 

The presidential primary is one of three statewide elections Colorado will have in 2020. Here are the others:

  • Tuesday, June 30. Coloradans will vote in primary contests for statehouse and U.S. House seats, as well in the marquee U.S. Senate race
  • Tuesday, Nov. 3: Colorado voters will elect a president, a U.S. senator, seven U.S. representatives and dozens of state lawmakers in the general election.
Voters cast their ballots at downtown Denver’s Bannock Street polling location on Election Day, Nov. 5, 2019. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Can I vote in person?

Yes, that’s always an option despite the fact that Colorado mails ballots to every registered voter in the state.

Polling centers will open for the presidential primary election in late February.

Feb. 24 is the final day you can register to vote and still receive a ballot in the mail. People can register to vote through Election Day, but they will have to vote in person if they choose to do so after Feb. 24. 

Voters are urged not to mail back their ballots within seven business days of March 3. That means they should either turn them into one of their county’s 24-hour drop-off boxes or a polling center or vote in person.

Ballots must be turned in to county clerks by 7 p.m. on Election Day. Ballots postmarked before March 3, but which are not in the hands of a county clerk by 7 p.m. on Election Day, won’t count.


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