Thousands of ballots mailed in Garfield County for Super Tuesday

John Gorman and Eddie Piker verify ballot signatures at the Garfield County Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Before entering the ballot counting room in the Garfield County Courthouse, individuals must write their name, the date and the time they entered in red ink.

Not blue, not black – red.

“We don’t use any blue or black because those are traditionally what the voters are told to use,” Jean Alberico, Garfield County clerk and recorder, said. “You won’t find any blue or black pens here so nobody can accuse the judges of marking ballots.”

It’s one of several measures put into place to protect the integrity of each ballot that makes its way through the door. 

On Feb. 10, nearly 32,000 ballots were mailed out to Garfield County voters as part of Colorado’s presidential primary Tuesday.

According to Alberico, approximately 9,000 went to Republicans, just over 8,000 to Democrats and a little over 13,000 to unaffiliated voters. 

The last number was of particular interest to Western Colorado Independent Voters co-founder and lead organizer Randy Fricke. 

In 2016, voters approved Proposition 107 and 108, which restored presidential primaries in Colorado and allowed unaffiliated voters to participate in them. 

“Our goal is to move to a totally open nonpartisan primary in Colorado and nationwide,” Fricke said. “Independents are going to have a really significant voice and role in all of these elections. It’s a big year.”

If an unaffiliated voter did not list any party preference at the time of registration, they receive both a Republican and Democrat presidential primary ballot in the mail.

“Some of the unaffiliated voters, when they filled out their paperwork, made a preference,” Alberico said. 

According to Alberico, quite a few unaffiliated voters who received both a Republican and Democrat presidential primary ballot made the mistake of filling out both and mailing them back. 

“We have gotten well over 100 ballots returned where the voter voted [on] both ballots,” Alberico said. “We didn’t count either one of those ballots.” 

In addition to allowing unaffiliated voters the ability to vote during primary season, it was also the first time in two decades that Colorado voters participated in a presidential primary.      

Colorado had 67 delegates up for grabs on Super Tuesday.  

Garfield County Democrats Chair John Krousouloudis said he had not heard any complaints about Colorado participating in a presidential primary on Super Tuesday. 

“A lot of the states want to take part early so they’re relevant in the election process,” Krousouloudis said. “If your primary is later in the cycle, by then a lot of decisions are made, a lot of people have dropped out. So, being early in the process, I think, is good overall.”

A representative from Garfield County Republicans was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

Lois Wilmoth was born and raised in Glenwood Springs and has served as an election judge in Garfield County for 12 years. She said she enjoyed the process, even with the changes. 

“It’s completely different than when I started,” Wilmoth said. “I certainly could never be a politician myself so this gives me a chance to be involved in the political process.”

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