Coloradans have until polls close on Election Day to register to vote. But, most important, those already registered with a political party have until today, June 6, to switch parties or unaffiliate ahead of the June 28th primary.

It takes less than five minutes online through the Colorado Secretary of State’s website. Click the link, complete the process and come back to my column after.

Mario Nicolais

Unaffiliated voters can choose to participate in either the Republican primary or the Democratic primary (but not both — if both ballots are turned in, neither will be counted). That is a boon I have taken advantage of in the past and will in the future.

Frankly, I do not understand why anyone would remain affiliated with a political party at this point. It makes much more sense to unaffiliate. Outside of hardcore activists, party officers and public officials who must align with a party to receive its nomination, the benefit of choice for average voters is too significant to pass up.

Even calculated, strategic partisans could and should switch.

As I wrote a few months ago, I plan to vote in the Republican party primary this year to cast my ballot against Tina Peters. I think highly of her opponent, Pam Anderson — she will get my vote in June and November if she wins later this month.

Similarly, I will vote against Ron Hanks on the same ballot. I do not know Joe O’Dea that well, but a toddler running around with gardening sheers is less dangerous than an insurrectionist (legally) in the U.S. Senate.

I am sure there are some Democratic operatives who look at Peters and Hanks as perfect foils for their preferred, incumbent candidates in November. The duo represent extreme caricatures of Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin, the Republican candidate actively promoted in a primary by the Democratic incumbent in 2012 because he presented the weakest general election opponent.

The theory is that Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Sen. Michael Bennet would cruise to victory over either. Having unaffiliated voters cast ballots for Peters and Hanks would set up an easy win for both.

While likely true, the 2016 presidential election should have disabused anyone from playing such a game.

Peters and Hanks are threats to our self-governance and democratic institutions. That is an existential issue. Even the most remote possibility either could win should be taken seriously. Everyone should take every opportunity to vote against both — even Democrats who would need to unaffiliate to do so.

Similarly, Democrats in the 3rd Congressional District have absolutely no reason to stay affiliated with a party that has no chance to unseat a member of Congress who chose to stiff her restaurant employees while she focused on building her own brand.

Those Democrats would be far better served becoming unaffiliated and supporting her primary opponent, Don Coram, in droves. That is a course I suggested in January.

The numbers suggest this may be happening at some level, albeit small.

There has been little change in statewide voter registration numbers between January and May — while there are 60,000 new unaffiliated voters, it does not appear to have come from either the Republican or Democratic parties (both gained about 2,000 statewide). However, in Mesa County, Democratic registration has dropped by about 1,500 — countered by a similar, positive change in unaffiliated registrations. 

Unfortunately, a similar pattern is not evident in the Democratic stronghold of Pueblo, where a concerted effort could have had a significant impact.

I suspect it will be several election cycles before active voters begin to fully understand the benefits, and concordant electoral clout, associated with an unaffiliated registration. Even as nearly 45% of the state electorate already enjoys the ability to vote in either major party primary, there remain significant blocks who stick to the tribe despite the drawbacks.

But for the few who want to make the change this year, you still have one more day to make it happen!

This column was updated on June 5, 2022, to correct that voters have until polls close on Election Day to register. June 6 is the deadline to switch parties or unaffiliate.

Mario Nicolais is an attorney and columnist who writes on law enforcement, the legal system, health care and public policy. Follow him on Twitter: @MarioNicolaiEsq

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