BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
Much has changed about how Coloradans will participate in the selection of the Democratic and Republican candidates for president of the United States in 2020.
For the first time, Colorado will be among the 14 states, representing more than one-third of the entire population of the United States, casting its ballots on March 3, known as Super Tuesday. The only states that will have held primaries or caucuses before March 3 are Iowa (Feb. 3), New Hampshire (Feb. 11), and South Carolina (Feb. 29).
The other states participating in Super Tuesday presidential primaries or caucuses are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia.
Two ballot issues approved by the state’s voters in 2016, in effect for the first time ever in a presidential election, allow Colorado residents to choose their preferred candidate for the major parties’ nomination by individual mail ballots (it was previously done in party caucuses that were informal and often unwieldy) and, more significantly, permit the 1,344,562 unaffiliated active voters in this state to cast votes in either (but not both) the Republican or Democratic presidential primary.
Also, for the first time, Colorado’s delegates to this summer’s major parties’ national conventions will be allocated based on the results of the March 3 presidential primary elections. In addition to using the mail or many drop-off centers provided for ballots, in-person voter centers will be made available by county clerks around the state. Ballots will be mailed out beginning Feb. 10. As was done in recent statewide elections, unaffiliated voters will receive both a Democratic and Republican primary ballot, unless they have expressed a preference for one or the other. Only one of the two may be returned in order for the vote to be counted.
Republicans whose names will appear on their party’s presidential primary ballot include President Trump, along with Joe Walsh, Bill Weld, and three others who are likely unfamiliar to most voters but qualified to be on the ballot in Colorado.
There are 17 Democrats on their party’s presidential primary ballot in Colorado. They include the recognizable front-runners, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar, along with Tom Steyer, Colorado’s own Sen. Michael Bennet, Andrew Yang, Michael Bloomberg, Deval Patrick, John Delaney, and Tulsi Gabbard. The remaining five candidates have either suspended their campaigns or are virtually unknown.
As of Jan.1 there were 3,392,828 active voters in Colorado. Of that total, 29 percent are registered as Republicans, 30 percent are registered as Democrats, and 40 percent are registered as unaffiliated, according to the Secretary of State.
Colorado is different from the rest of the United States in that regard. A 2019 Wall Street Journal/NBC news poll showed that 37 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans and 42 percent identify themselves as Democrats, leaving only 21 percent to be members of third parties or unaffiliated. Interestingly, the same poll conducted in 2010 had the exact same results.
There continues to be a clear trend away from party affiliation with Colorado’s younger voters. As of Jan. 1, the Secretary of State’s records indicate that 34 percent of registered Republicans are in the 18 to 44 age group and 45 percent of Democrats fall into that category, compared to a whopping 57 percent of unaffiliated voters. Conversely, 27 percent of registered Republicans are age 65 or older, while 23 percent of Democrats are senior citizens, compared to only 14 percent of unaffiliated voters.
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