Your last-minute guide to today’s primary elections in Colorado

As of this Election Day morning, 833,638 Coloradans had already cast ballots for today’s primary election. That’s about 22 percent of the state’s total voting population. Many people wait until the last day.

Of that total so far, Democrats cast 324,206 of those ballots and Republicans cast 311,329, giving the Dems a participation and enthusiasm edge. There are 1,015,813 registered active Democrats in Colorado and 1,000,116 registered Republicans.

Unaffiliated voters, who could participate in the party primaries for the first time, cast 198,103. There are about 1.2 million unaffiliated voters in the state. 

Voters have until 7 p.m. to cast their ballots at drop-off boxes. Click here for locations.

Who is going to win the primary for governor?

You’ll know when we do, so keep checking back, and following our Twitter feed.

We’ll have Election Night coverage on our website and reporters on the ground fanning out at the different candidate victory parties. Check our page dedicated to the governor’s race, too.

Running for their party’s nomination for this top office are three Democrats and three Republicans. The Dems are Mike Johnston, Cary Kennedy, Donna Lynne and Jared Polis. The Republicans are Greg Lopez, Victor Mitchell, Doug Robinson and Walker Stapleton.

Unaffiliated voters can participate for the first time

In 2016, Colorado voters passed a ballot measure that opened the party primaries up to the state’s 1.2 million unaffiliated voters, who make up a larger voting population that those who choose to register with a major party.

So far, those independent voters have chosen at least 10,000 more Democratic ballots than GOP ballots.

But also.

More than 3,000 votes cast by unaffiliated voters won’t count because they mailed in two ballots and they are only supposed to mail in one. There’s no way for a voter to remedy their rejected ballot if they realize they made the mistake. The Secretary of State’s office ran a public education campaign to let unaffiliated voters know they’re only supposed to mail back one ballot. Depending on how large that number is when all the votes are counted, look out for a public backlash.

Here’s a friendly video to share with your unaffiliated last-minute voting friends in case they forget:

What the Colorado pollsters, pundits, and prognosticators really want to know, though, is what effect this influx of voters into the party primaries will mean for the outcomes. Backers of the new law hoped a massive injection of the state’s non-party people into the primary voting stream would produce a moderating effect on the candidates. Others said the types of unaffiliated voters who would cast ballots might be the kind who are so extreme on the left or right that they believe the parties don’t represent them.

Keep an eye on the Democratic race for attorney general

While the Democratic primary for governor features four candidates without a Bernie in the bunch, this down-ballot race gives voters a stark choice.

Thornton Democratic lawmaker Joe Salazar is a bomb-throwing self-described “street fighter,” a social justice activist and civil rights lawyer who is backed by none other than Bernie Sanders himself.

Phil Weiser is a more moderate establishment Democrat and a former law school dean who Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper made a point to endorse last week.

For a great synopsis on where these candidates differ on policy and how they would run the AG’s office, read our recent piece by Shannon Mullane.

Republican attorney general candidate George Brauchler, who prosecuted the Aurora theater shooter, ran unopposed, so whoever wins tonight will face him in the fall.

Does the party decide?

We’ll see.

Around the country, some progressive candidates have complained about the national Democratic establishment, specifically the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, putting their thumb on the scale in a primary. This weekend, “This American Life” dedicated its show to the plight of one Democratic congressional candidate in New York fighting against the party machine.

Here in Colorado, that storyline is playing out in the Denver suburbs of the 6th District where the DCCC has “thrown its weight in the race” behind Jason Crow as he faces a rebel insurgency from a more Sanders-styled Levi Tillemann. In his campaign, Tillemann leaked a tape to The Intercept in which Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in Congress, tells Tillemann he wishes he would get out of the race, because “a judgment was made very early on” that led Hoyer to support Crow.

Read our primer on this race here.

The Democrat who wins tonight will go on to face Republican Congressman Mike Coffman in November.

Meanwhile, Diana DeGette, Colorado’s longest-serving female congresswoman who has been in office for 22 years, faces a Democratic primary challenge from progressive Saira Rao, a 43-year-old Indian-American mother of two who says it’s time to go “true blue.” We previewed that race here.

What about the state treasurer races?

Keep a long view on this typically low-profile race. Why? Because those who become state treasurer in Colorado often tend to go on to run for governor one day. (See: Romer, Roy; Owens, Bill; Kennedy, Cary; Stapleton, Walker.)  

The Denver Business Journal reports, “The two Democrats running to become the next Colorado treasurer both believe the state needs an activist financial overseer in the office — but they paint quite different pictures of how they want to be active.”

On the Republican side, four candidates are clashing for all sorts of reasons, and as one of them is even saying already, “I think this is a stepping stone for my opponents.”

What happens in Pueblo?

In the November 2016 presidential election, the heavily Hispanic working-class Pueblo County in southeastern Colorado flipped from a key Democratic stronghold when voters there went for Donald Trump, choosing a Republican president for the first time since Richard Nixon in 1972.

What’s happened since then? Are the Democrats energized? Which way will the unaffiliated voters there swing?

The only current Republican county office holder in Pueblo is the coroner, and a Democrat is running unopposed in the primary for that race. All the county commissioners are Democrats and there’s only one up for election who is running unopposed in the primary, says Pueblo Democratic Party Chair Mary Beth Corsentino.

There’s also a big nonpartisan race for mayor there with 20 candidates running, which could boost turnout.

As of around noon on Election Day, Democrats were more enthusiastic at the ballot box. The Pueblo County Clerk and Record office said 13,383 Democrats had cast ballots in the primaries versus 7,676 Republicans— so nearly twice as many.

Out of 4,063 unaffiliated ballots, voters chose 1,905 Democratic ballots versus 1,552 Republican ones.

Any local ballot measures of note?

Are local cities, towns or counties voting today on a ballot measure worth following? A vote to ban fluoride from a water supply, maybe? Or letting the local government get in on broadband access? Some home-rule municipalities have had local measures on the ballot during primaries elections in the past.

But, “to the best of our knowledge there are no local municipal questions on the ballot today,” says Sam Mamet, director of the Colorado Municipal League. “There’s nothing that we’re aware of that’s showing up today as far as special election questions.”

Now, November is another story. But we’ll have to wait until then.

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