COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Today is Super Tuesday, the last day for Coloradans to drop off ballots and make their voice heard in the 2020 race for the White House.
According to the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, about 391,000 ballots were mailed to registered voters. As of Monday night, 151,228 had been returned in the county.
Ballots are due by 7 p.m. Tuesday, but Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman has been encouraging voters to return them early.
“I know some people are still deciding who they’re going to support in this presidential primary, but if you know, don’t let it sit on your kitchen counter. Return that,” he said. “Why is that important? It’s important so that we can keep our overtime down. It’ll be a late night on elections. We like to get those results to our citizens as quickly as possible on election night.”
Being ahead of the game didn't work out for everyone this year. Several Democratic candidates dropped out of the race before Super Tuesday. Coloradans who already submitted their ballot cannot vote again.
For those who still have their ballots, it's too late to send it back through the mail. Broerman encourages people to drop their ballots off at one of the 34 drop box locations around El Paso County. There have been seven boxes added since the last election in November, he said.
“Over the last many months, we looked at locations trying to fill in pockets or gaps where it would make it even easier,” Broerman said. “Nine years ago when I started, we had five drop boxes. Now, we’re up to 34, so we make it extremely easy to vote in Colorado.”
First presidential primary
This is the first presidential primary election in Colorado in about 20 years. In 2016, Coloradans voted to switch from caucuses to primaries .
“We’re a participant in Super Tuesday. We’re rather late in the election process, so the relevancy of Colorado voting in the primary back 20 years ago was low,” he said. “Now, it’s a significant, higher level of importance for the candidates.
An additional election means the Clerk and Recorder’s Office is busier than normal.
“When we have a November election, like we had a coordinated election last year, we have a little bit more time to plan and prepare for the party primary in June, but this year, as soon as we put one election to bed, it was time to plan for our next one,” Broerman said. “This year is very busy for our election department. We have three elections, so the operational tempo is very high.”
Broerman said it’s hard to estimate what voter turnout for this election might be because there’s no recent data to compare it to.
“We’re kind of in unchartered area,” he said. “We’re thinking somewhere around 35-40 percent, but there’s still a number of variables that could play in.”
In this election, registered Republicans and Democrats received a ballot corresponding to their party. For the first time, unaffiliated voters can also participate in the primary.
“If you’re unaffiliated, you get both ballots,” Broerman said. “But it’s not permissible to vote both of them. It is state law you can only return one. So if you vote one, but you return both of them, that won’t count. So only return the one that you are making your selection on … If you return both ballots, whether they’re voted or not, it will cancel your vote and we don’t want that to happen. We want your voice to be heard.”
He recommended shredding or destroying the unused ballot.
If you fill out your ballot but want to change your selection, Broerman said you should draw a line through the incorrect choice and fill in the oval of the one you want to pick.
“We will see that when we process that ballot and be able to adjudicate that the appropriate way,” he said. “You can do that or you can come to one of our vote centers.”
Broerman also reminded people to sign the back of their ballot envelope before returning it.
“That signature we use to compare to your past signatures,” he said. “That’s the way we identify that is you and not someone else. So that’s critical in making sure we accurately record the vote and that no one commits voter fraud.”
It is possible for someone to be prosecuted for signing someone’s name on their ballot, Broerman said.
If you forget to sign the envelope, you have eight days after the election to “cure” it. Broerman said the Clerk and Recorder’s Office will send a letter alerting you to the missing signature.
“We want your voice to be heard,” he said.
Registering to vote
People who have not signed up to vote can still do so. They can no longer register online but have to go into one of the Voter Service and Polling Centers in the county. Additional centers opened Monday and will stay open through the election on March 3.
“We opened up a number of vote centers for citizens to be able to come, update their address, get a ballot replacement if they had spoiled that or to register for the very first time,” Broerman said.
A list of polling centers and drop boxes around the county can be found here.