Primary ballots begin to take shape

Candidates who don’t get party nod still could petition to run

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Voting details

For the first time, Routt County Clerk Kay Weinland said this week, voters can register or change their party affiliation online for the Aug. 10 primary election.

“This is going to be fabulous,” Weinland said. “But you must have a Colorado driver’s license or Colorado ID issued by the Department of Revenue.”

The new online registration/affiliation process could prove significant in the all-mail ballot primary election because Routt County has more registered, unaffiliated voters (6,338) than it does registered Republicans (4,944), Democrats (5,196) or Libertarians (115).

Change your party affiliation for primary voting or register to vote through the link at the Routt County government site, www.co.routt.co.us. Voters also can use that Web site to confirm their registration details.

Key primary dates

April 30: First day an unaffiliated candidate may circulate a petition for county, district, state or federal office

May 27: Last day to file a petition by candidates from major or minor parties for the Aug. 10 primary election

June 4: Last day a write-in candidate may file an affidavit of intent for the primary election

June 15: Last day to file an unaffiliated candidate nomination petition for the general election.

— A snapshot of the Aug. 10 primary election taken today would show the possibility of just one contested race for Routt County voters. But that doesn’t mean the situation couldn’t begin to change quite suddenly Saturday when the county Democratic and Republican parties conduct their assemblies.

“A candidate who is playing things close to the vest could ask for their party’s support,” Election Supervisor Vicki Weber said. “If they got enough votes, they would have 10 days to file a candidate affidavit with the Secretary of State.”

Weber works in the Routt County Clerk and Recorder’s Office. Voters can expect to receive their ballot packets by mail in July, 18 to 22 days before election day, according to election plans approved March 30 by the Routt County Board of Commissioners. Voters who have been classified as inactive will be notified of their status by mail.

The lone race shaping up for this summer’s primary is among three Republican candidates hoping to challenge incumbent Sheriff Gary Wall, a Democrat, in the Nov. 2 general election. Each would need to get 30 percent of the vote from among 87 delegates to Saturday’s Republican assembly to be placed on the ballot. Failing that, candidates still could try to petition their way onto the primary ballot, Weber said, if they receive at least 10 percent of the delegate vote at the assembly.

Candidates seeking to place their names on the primary ballot through the petition process must obtain valid signatures from a number of voters equal to 20 percent of the votes cast for that post in the last party primary.

The petition must be turned in by May 27; however, candidates who anticipated the process were free to begin collecting signatures on March 29.

Only voters affi­liated as Libertarians, Dem­­­­ocrats or Republicans may vote in the all-mail ballot primary election, and the big news for primary voters this year is that for the first time, they may declare or change an affiliation online. And it’s possible to change that affiliation again between the primary and general election.

The net effect is that unaffiliated voters, and declared Republicans and Democrats, could choose a primary in order to cast a vote in an important local race, regardless of their political leaning. For example, should the Republican race for a sheriff nominee turn out to be the only primary race, some Democrats might choose to vote Republican in Au­­­gust to advance the candidacy of a person they favor over the competition.

Scarcity of races

County Clerk Kay Weinland, County Commi­ssioner Diane Mitsch Bush and Treasurer Jeanne Whiddon are running unopposed for re-election, and Democrat Darrel Levingston is running against Republican incumbent Coro­ner Rob Ryg.

In the wake of the resignation of Assessor Mike Ker­rigan, there is certain to be a new assessor elected in the fall, but unaffiliated candidate Gary Peterson, currently serving as interim assessor, won’t be on the primary ballot. Instead, he must petition his way onto the ballot for the general election. He can begin circulating his petition April 30, and by June 15, he must have at least 154 signatures of verifiable registered voters.

Weber said all candidates circulating petitions should consider aiming for double the number of required

signatures (the number varies as a percentage of ballots cast for that post in the last election). Weber also urged all voters to makes sure their registration, and particularly their street address, is current if they plan to sign a candidate’s petition.

“It’s very important that

we have your correct information in our database,” Weber said.

A wrong address will invalidate the signature, and mailing addresses are not sufficient, she added.

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