Colorado’s disappearing write-in candidate list

Jerry Eller hopes to win the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in June as a write-in-candidate, but few Coloradans will find his name or that of any other write-in candidate from official sources.

Colorado law allows the Secretary of State to compile a list of individuals who hope to win an election as write-in candidates. Eller is on that list, which is officially provided only to those who choose to vote in-person at county voting service centers and who ask for that list from election judges at those polling places.

Those who mail in their ballots will not be informed of that write-in list through the mail-in ballot process, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Eller isn’t the only one on the write-in list, but he’s among the most notable.

A list of primary candidates on the Secretary of State’s website includes Eller and Democrat Steven Todd, a write-in challenger to U.S. Rep. Jared Polis in the Second Congressional District.

Eller tried to get onto the ballot through the state GOP convention in April, but got less than one percent of the vote.

How voters find out about write-in candidates from official sources varies from one county to another. Alton Dillard, spokesman for Denver Elections, said the write-in list will be available on the elections website and at the voting service centers.

But finding any information about write-in candidates on other county websites is nearly impossible. A review of the state’s biggest counties showed none had posted any information about write-in candidates.

There is a subtle hint on the ballot that a write-in candidate is in the mix. The sample Republican ballots listed by some of those counties did show a place for a person to write-in a candidate’s name on the U.S. Senate race. It doesn’t give that option for any other primary races at the federal level in Mesa, Denver or El Paso counties.

Jefferson County’s website says the county may provide information about write-in candidates, but as of this report officials had not posted either a sample ballot or a list of write-in candidates.

And the state party websites also don’t give that information. The Colorado Democratic Party has a list of all of its congressional candidates, but doesn’t include Todd in CD2. The Colorado GOP does not list its party’s candidates for the primary on its website.

As to how voters find out when there’s a write-in candidate for an office, that’s up to the candidate, according to state GOP Chair Steve House.

Political parties have a responsibility to their candidates, House told The Colorado Independent this week. If someone decides to run as a write-in-candidate, “if you run outside of your party [process], you must run as if you are your own political party and take the responsibility” to educate voters.

House added that he loves it when voters are informed. But “if I try to promote information about [Eller], I’m doing a disservice to the five people who got on the ballot appropriately through the assembly or the petition process.”

Ballots have already been sent to overseas military voters. Mail ballots to Colorado residents go out next Monday.

has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.