Today Is the Last Day to Switch Your Party Affiliation for Colorado’s Primary

Colorado has about 3.8 million registered voters, but only 3.3 million of them are considered "active."
Colorado has about 3.8 million registered voters, but only 3.3 million of them are considered "active." hermosawave/iStock
After more than a year of campaigning, the 2020 presidential primary calendar officially gets under way tonight, February 3, as Iowa Democrats cast their votes in the state’s first-in-the-nation caucus — and it won’t be long before many Coloradans do the same, with mail-in ballots scheduled to be sent out next week, ahead of the state's March 3 primary.

Things are a lot different in this state than the last time around. Months after 2016 presidential caucuses that were plagued by crowding problems and accusations of unfairness, Colorado voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 107, which scrapped the caucus system in favor of “semi-open” primary elections, meaning that unaffiliated voters can choose which party’s primary they want to vote in.

If you're registered with a party, though, you still can't cross over to vote in the other's primary. With ballots dropping as early as February 11, today is the last day to switch or withdraw your registration in time for it to count, so if you’re a registered Republican who wants to vote in the Democratic primary, or a Democrat who wants to weigh in on the Republican side, hurry over to GoVoteColorado.com and get your information updated.

If you’re an unaffiliated voter, you don't need to do anything today, but you can make things simpler for yourself by selecting a “party preference," which will mean you'll only receive that party's ballot in the mail next week. If you don't select a preference by today, you'll get both Democratic and Republican ballots, but you can only return one.

Next month's primary, the first presidential primary held in Colorado since 2000, will fall on "Super Tuesday," with thirteen other states, including California and Texas, heading to the polls in what could prove a turning point in the race for the Democratic nomination. In all, seventeen Democrats appear on Colorado's Democratic primary ballot, though at least two — New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and former Maryland Representative John Delaney — have already announced their withdrawal from the race.

Under the new primary system, unaffiliated voters could prove a decisive factor in Colorado's contest; they're Colorado's largest block of registered voters, with a total of about 1,581,344 unaffiliateds registered statewide, alongside 1,158,962 Democrats and 1,089,817 Republicans as of December 2019, according to data from the Colorado Secretary of State's Office.
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Chase Woodruff is a staff writer at Westword interested in climate change, the environment and money in politics.
Contact: Chase Woodruff