Turnout varies in primary, but county, Colorado election officials busy

The crew at Denver Elections and various Colorado Secretary of State staffers pose for a group shot after a visit Wednesday, June 22, by some state election staffers. The state was observing Denver using Dominion Voting Systems.

Fremont County Clerk Katie Barr isn’t sure whether her county is headed to its lowest primary election turnout in years or if there’s going to be a rush of ballots on Tuesday.

“It’s really slow,” she said. “I don’t know why people aren’t participating in the primary this year.”

Larimer County Clerk Angela Myers told the Loveland Herald Reporter what drives turnout is contested local races and this year there aren’t a lot of them in her jurisdiction.

It’s another story in Denver, where an open race for district attorney, an open seat on the University of Colorado board of regents and some open legislative racesare driving up Democratic turnout past 2012 and 2014 primary levels, said Denver elections director Amber McReynolds.

The  primary election is Tuesday. Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and his staff met with clerks and county election directors last week and will visit others on Monday in preparation for the election.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Fremont County Clerk Katie Barr and her elections director Jami Goff Friday in Cañon City.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Fremont County Clerk Katie Barr and her elections director Jami Goff Friday in Cañon City.

In addition to Fremont County, Williams also visited Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz on Friday. The day before, he met with Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder.

In some cases, the visits are  focused on counties using a new voting system, Dominion Voting Systems, said Hilary Rudy, deputy elections director for the Colorado Secretary of State. She noted that on Monday Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and her staff will visit some metro area counties using Dominion Voting Systems. Her state currently uses the same firm, but she wants to see Dominion’s latest equipment in use.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office reported Friday morning that the ballot return rate for Democrats was 18.93 percent, and 20.77 percent for Republicans.

The turnout among active voters in the 2014 primary was 21.84 percent. In that contest, almost one-fifth of the ballots were turned in on Election Day.

In 2010, it hit 36.7 percent, but there were high profile contests for both parties. Michael Bennet and Andrew Romanoff were battling for the nomination for U.S. Senate on the Democratic side. Jane Norton and Ken Buck were running for U.S. Senate on the GOP side.

In addition, Republicans had primary matchups for governor and treasurer.

The only contested statewide race this year is the GOP primary for U.S. Senate where five Republicans are vying for the chance to unseat Sen. Bennet in November.

Also on the ballot are races for seven congressional districts, three Board of Education seats, three University of Colorado regent seats, 18 of 35 Senate seats, all 65 House seats, all 22 district attorney offices and assorted county commissioner races.