Colorado’s 2018 precinct caucus voter registration deadline nears


Colorado caucuses

What: Information about Colorado Democrats’ and Republicans’ March 2018 neighborhood precinct caucuses, and the county, congressional district and state assemblies that will be held in subsequent weeks, will be posted and updated on the parties’ county and state websites in the months ahead. Those sites include:

Boulder County Democratic Party: bocodems.org

Boulder County Republican Party: bocogop.org

Weld County Democratic Party: weldcountydems.org

Weld County Republican Party: weldcogop.org

Broomfield Democratic Party: broomfielddems.org

Broomfield Republican Party: broomfieldgop.org

Colorado Democratic Party: coloradodems.org

Colorado Republican Party: cologop.org

Federal, state and county government offices up for election in 2018

Next year’s elections will be held to fill a number of partisan political offices, including:

Federal: All seven Colorado congressional district seats, including the 2nd Congressional District that represents most of Boulder County and all of Broomfield, and the 4th Congressional District that represents the Longmont area and all of Weld County

Statewide: Governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, University of Colorado regent ar-large seat

Colorado State Senate: Senate District 16, which extends north into southern Boulder County

Colorado House: House Districts 10, 11, 12, and 13, which include portions of Boulder County, House District 33, which represents Broomfield and parts of Boulder County, and House District 63, which represents much of southwest Weld County

Other state government posts: Colorado Board of Education, Districts 2 and 4

Boulder County government: District 3 county commissioner, assessor, clerk and recorder, coroner,sheriff, surveyor, treasurer

Weld County government:At-large county commissioner, District 2 county commissioner, assessor, clerk and recorder, sheriff

The deadline is looming for Colorado voters who are not already registered as Democrats or Republicans to affiliate with one in order to participate in that political party’s March 6 precinct caucuses.

Would-be caucus-goers who are eligible to vote but who have not yet registered — as well as people who are on current registration rollsas being unaffiliated with any party, and people who want to change their current affiliation to be listed as a Republican or Democrat — have to register or declare that affiliation by Jan. 8.

“Lots of local races will be impacted,” said Boulder County Democratic chairwoman Ellen Burnes, by the process of picking which major-party candidates will advance to the June primary election, a process that begins with the precinct caucuses.

Burnes said the caucuses — and the county, legislative district, congressional district and state assemblies that will follow, later in March and in April — will give participants the chance to “get the candidates who represent your voice on the ballot. We have multiple candidates running for local races who represent the county geographically, culturally, educationally, socio-economically.”

Boulder County Republican chairwoman Peg Cage called the caucuses the point at which “you elect people from your neighborhood” to attend and cast votes in the subsequent party assemblies that will be held in March and April.

“It’s the voters who choose between the candidates on the ballot, but for the most part, it’s the people active in their political parties who choose those candidates for the ballot,” Cage said. “Precinct caucuses are where our government begins.”

The Democratic- or Republican-party affiliation deadline for participating in the March caucuses also applies to voters currently registered as members of what the state considers “minor” political parties, the Libertarian, Green, American Constitution and Unity parties. They can switch their affiliation to Democrat or Republican and vote in their neighborhood’s Democratic or Republican precinct caucus, as long as they do so by Jan. 8.

The major political parties’ precinct caucuses — along with the subsequent county, legislative district, congressional district and state assemblies — are the traditional path for candidates to seek spots on the Democrats’ and Republicans’ June primary election ballots.

However, some candidates may choose to bypass the caucus-and-assembly process and instead petition their way onto their parties’ primary ballots.

Chance to ‘build community’

There already are intra-party rivalries for some of the federal, state and county government offices up for election next year. People designated at the caucuses to be delegates to the subsequent county, state legislative, congressional district and state assemblies will get the chance to vote on their picks to advance to the primary election ballots.

That often narrows the fields of candidates competing for the chance to advance their names and policy positions to voters casting ballots in the Republican or Democratic primaries.

The major parties also sometimes use the caucuses and subsequent assemblies to recruit candidates, if none have yet announced by the time the county, district and state assembly delegates convene.

Colorado Republican chairman Jeff Hays said, “In addition to electing delegates at caucus, we also elect precinct leaders, who form the backbone of local party organizations.”

The caucuses are “an opportunity to interact with neighbors, build community and build the party all in a single evening,” Hays said in a statement.

Colorado Democratic Party leaders are encouraging their members to “Commit to Caucus” during the 2018 election season.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport, and if we want a government that serves hard working Coloradans instead of the wealthy donor class, we need all hands on deck,” Pilar Chapa, the state Democratic Party’s executive director, said in a statement.

Precinct caucuses are open to the public, including members of other parties or unaffiliated voters who might just want to show up to watch. However, except for people who turn 18 after Jan. 8, register and declare a major-party affiliation, a March caucus attendee will have to have been a registered Democrat or registered Republican by Jan. 8 in order to vote in that party’s caucuses.

As of the start of December, there were 88,305 people identified as Democrats on Boulder County’s active-voter registration rolls who could participate in that party’s March 6 caucuses, as well as 33,462 Republicans who could participate in Boulder County’s GOP caucuses.

Any of those voters currently registered as Democrats could switch their party affiliation to Republican, as long as they do so by Jan. 8, and participate in their newly preferred party’s caucuses.

Minor parties have presence

Boulder County’s Dec. 1 registration rolls also included 73,122 voters unaffiliated with any political parties — voters who could change their registrations to Democrat or Republican by Jan. 8 and participate in that party’s caucuses.

Boulder County’s voter rolls also included, as of the first of the month, 3,438 people registered with so-called minor parties — the Libertarian, Green, American Constitution and Unity parties. Those voters also could participate in a Democratic or GOP caucus in March as long as they officially switched their affiliation to Democrat or Republican by Jan. 8.

Weld County had 60,175 registered Republicans on its rolls as of Dec. 1, along with 36,146 registered Democrats. Weld voters who could declare a Democratic or Republican affiliation and participate in one of those major-party caucuses, if they change their voter registration by Jan. 8, included 57,788 currently unaffiliated voters and 2,694 minor-party members who could switch to Republican or Democrat in order to caucus on March 6.

Broomfield had 12,723 Democrats, 12,029 Republicans on its rolls as of Dec. 1, along with 724 minor-party members and 16,671 voters unaffiliated with any party.

Coloradans can register to vote or change their registration information, including their party affiliation, through a link on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website, govotecolorado.com. People can also register in person, designate a party affiliation, or change a party affiliation at their county clerk’s offices.

John Fryar: 303-684-5211, [email protected] or twitter.com/jfryartc

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