The Democratic presidential primary field has been reshaped again, this time by the results from South Carolina on Saturday.
Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and billionaire businessman Tom Steyer dropped out of the contest after poor showings in the South Carolina primary.
Since Coloradans have had their ballots for weeks, many people may already have voted for Buttigieg, Klobuchar or Steyer, or for Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, who dropped out on Feb. 11, the day after ballots were mailed. If you’re among that group, you may be wondering what options you have.
Here’s what you need to know:
If you’ve already returned a ballot
If you’ve filled out a ballot for a candidate who has ended their campaign and turned it in to your county’s clerk, it’s too late.
You can’t request a new ballot or try to vote in person for someone else.
If the candidate has officially withdrawn their candidacy with Colorado’s secretary of state, then the vote simply won’t count. Some candidates have dropped out, but not officially. If you cast a ballot for one of them, the vote will be counted, but it will effectively mean nothing since the candidate is no longer running.
A top Democratic state lawmaker believes the General Assembly should talk about a change to the law to accommodate voters.
House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver, said he received messages from voters who expressed frustration that their vote won’t count. He suggested the ability for voters to cast a provisional ballot, but acknowledged how it would work would need more discussion.
“I do think it’s a conversation starter about whether or not we need to make a statutory change to allow voters in the future an opportunity to make sure their voice is heard all the way up to Election Day,” Garnett told reporters Monday.
This is the first time Colorado is conducting a presidential primary by mail ballot, Garnett noted. “And these are some of the issues that I don’t think the legislature discussed as that bill was making its way through the process.”
The candidates on Colorado’s Democratic presidential primary ballot who are no longer running include:
- Cory Booker
- Pete Buttigieg
- Michael Bennet
- Marianne Williamson
- Deval Patrick
- Andrew Yang
- Tom Steyer
- John Delaney
- Amy Klobuchar
If you haven’t turned in your ballot
If you have filled out your ballot and voted for a candidate who has dropped out of the contest but have not yet turned it in, you’re in luck.
You can change your selection by crossing out your first pick and marking the oval next to your now-preferred candidate.
You can also simply go to your county’s in-person voting center, request a new ballot and fill it out. Bring your old ballot and election officials will invalidate and/or destroy it.
How will candidates dropping out affect the race?
There is no way to know how many people voted for candidates who have dropped out of the contest, so it’s also unclear how they may affect the outcome of the Democratic presidential primary in Colorado.
But there are strong indications many voters are waiting until the last minute to cast their votes.
As of Sunday, only 523,641 ballots for the Democratic primary had been turned in. There are more than 2.3 million Colorado voters eligible to participate in the race.
How much time do I have to vote?
Ballots must be in the possession of your county’s clerk by 7 p.m. on Tuesday
That means it is too late to mail ballots back. If you have a mail-in ballot that needs to be turned it, you must drop it off at a designated drop-off box or polling place.
You may also vote in person at a voter service center in your home county. Anyone in line to vote before 7 p.m. on Election Day can still cast a ballot.