Colorado’s grassroots nomination process for this year’s election gets underway for Democratic and Republican party members next week.
Precinct caucuses, which lead to county, congressional district and state nominating assemblies, are one way to make the June 28 primary election ballot. Candidates may also gather petition signatures, which are due to the Secretary of State’s Office on March 15. Some candidates may try both methods to get on the ballot. Others stick with the caucus system because paying to collect signatures can be costly, especially for statewide candidates.
“It enables us not to have a pay-to-play system,” Colorado Republican Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown said last week in a caucus training session, noting that some states require steep fees to make the ballot.
At the caucuses, attendees may discuss candidates and party platforms, while also electing delegates to the county assembly. Those county assembly delegates will nominate county-level candidates while electing people to attend congressional assemblies and the state assemblies. Both parties are holding state assemblies to nominate statewide candidates April 9.
Here’s what you need to know to participate in the process.
You must be registered in the party at your current address
It’s too late to switch your party affiliation to attend a caucus. Caucus participants must be registered to the party with their correct address at least 22 days in advance. Unaffiliated voters may not participate in the caucus process, although they may vote in either Democratic or Republican primaries.
Caucus times may vary
Caucuses will be held March 1-5, as scheduled by each county’s political parties. County assemblies must be held by March 26.
When and where is my caucus?
Republicans may enter their address online to verify their identity and find their caucus location. Some county Republican parties publish lists of caucus locations. The state Democratic Party has a list of precinct caucus and county assembly locations and dates by county. Some county Democratic parties are holding meetings via Zoom instead of in person.
The Republican Party may request a “badge fee” to be a delegate to some assemblies. For instance, Douglas County charges $20 to attend the county assembly. In the past, the fee to attend the state assembly was $50 per delegate. The fees may be waived in some instances. Democrats don’t charge fees to participate.
How are the decisions made?
Precinct leaders will be elected at caucuses to organize future political activity. Caucus participants also will elect delegates and alternates to county assemblies.
Delegates to county assemblies will select countywide candidates for the primary, as well as state legislative candidates in many instances. In state House or Senate districts with multiple counties, county assembly delegates who live in those districts will meet to select candidates.
Republicans will hold their state assembly April 9 at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs. Several congressional district assemblies will be the day before that, while others may be held at different times. Democrats, on the other hand, will hold a virtual state assembly.
How are the candidates selected?
If a candidate receives at least 30% of the assembly vote in the first round of voting, they make the ballot. That means up to three candidates could be selected for the primary at an assembly. If no candidate receives 30%, a second round of voting takes place. Anyone who receives 30% on that second round makes the primary ballot. But if no one receives that minimum, the top two vote-getters will make the ballot.
How do we know which candidates are running?
However, some candidates may decide to run at county, congressional district or state assemblies on the spur of the moment. Typically, candidates make speeches asking delegates for their votes.