Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

August 10 primaries: Unaffiliated voters could change game for Andrew Romanoff, Ken Buck

A third of Colorado's registered voters haven't gotten their ballots for the August 10 primary -- because they're officially registered as unaffiliated, and only voters affiliated with parties that have contested races get to vote in the primary. But that also means independent voters have a real chance to be game-changers next week.

There are enough unaffiliated voters in Colorado -- traditionally, the split is close to a third independent, a third Republican and a third Democrat, with a fraction sliced out for official third parties -- to make a difference in the increasingly competitive Republican and Democrat contests. Andrew Romanoff recognizes this, and is encouraging undeclared voters to affiliate with the Democratic Party for the primary -- if they want to vote for him, that is.

With the Senate race against Bennet as close as it is, a few thousand unanticipated (and so far unpolled) voters could make the difference.

The same is true for the Republican Party, where polls have increasingly tight races between Jane Norton and Ken Buck for Senate, and Dan Maes and Scott McInnis for governor. Unaffiliated voters who sign up for the Republican primary could be critical in those contests, too.

Want to make a difference? Although it's too late for voters to change their official party affiliations (that deadline was July 12 for the primary), unaffiliated voters can affiliate with a party through next Tuesday, and then vote in that party's primary. (They can do this online with the Secretary of State today at and still get a ballot -- but a better bet in Denver is to go to one of the city's thirteen vote centers.) They can unaffiliate the day after the primary -- although all registered voters automatically get to vote in November.

The only dilemma with this? You can't affiliate with two parties and weigh in on both Romanoff/Bennet and Buck/Norton.

Party on!

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun