Politics & Policy

Newcomers to Party May Sway Today’s Colorado Elections

Today, Colorado is facing three top-of-the-ticket primaries that could go down to a few thousand or even a few hundred votes. One crucial element of the final results will be the ability of registered voters who have not declared a party affiliation to align themselves with either party for the chance to chime in on the eventual party nominees may affect Tuesday’s results:

Up until 7 p.m. tomorrow, a registered, officially unaffiliated voter can go to one of Denver’s thirteen voter centers (find them on the Elections Division website), officially affiliate with one of the parties, and then vote in that party’s primary.

Just imagine how more than 100,000 previously unpolled voters could throw off the pundits and change the outcome of tomorrow’s races! (And also completely screw up the vote-counting process, but that’s another issue.)

And that’s just the number of unaffiliated voters in Denver. Although the city is more heavily Democratic than the rest of Colorado (48.71 percent Democratic and 17 percent Republican, when state stats are closer to one-third Democratic, one-third Republican), the one-third unaffiliated percentage holds up across the state — and any one of those unaffiliated voters can sign up with a party in order to vote in tomorrow’s primary. (Check the Colorado Secretary of State’s website for the procedure in a particular county.) The trickier part of this process: Deciding whether you’d want to weigh in on the Democratic or Republican races, since all of them have gotten increasingly nasty — and tight.

The state is roughly divided into thirds politically, with 817,458 active Democratic voters, 855,667 active Republicans, and 765,849 active unaffiliateds.

Rasmussen ranked Colorado as the most heavily-linked Tea Party state in the country. Some Tea Partiers who were not already registered Republicans helped “grassroots” candidates like Ken Buck (Senate) and Dan Maes (Governor) win at the state assembly in May by affiliating before the March caucuses. It is not certain how many have subsequently affiliated ahead of today’s primary.

“I have talked to a lot of people who are doing that,” Lesley Hollywood, leader of the Northern Colorado Tea Party, told Battle ‘10, referring to voters who have declared a last-minute affiliation. While not exactly a last-minute “surge,” Hollywood noted that, in a tight election, a steady trickle of late affiliators and even the “unlikely” (inactive) voters may play a much larger role than in recent Colorado GOP primaries.

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