Roadside-style sign with the words "Elections Ahead"

Colorado primary election voter turnout remains below 2020, 2022 levels

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Sara Wilson

(Colorado Newsline) Voter turnout for Tuesday’s primary election in Colorado is lagging behind 2020 and 2022 numbers, data from the secretary of state’s office shows.

As of 9:00 a.m. Friday, a bit over 530,000 people had returned their ballots, amounting to about 13.8 percent of active registered voters in the state.

Miniature ballot box with and image of the Colorado state flag on a red background with slips of paper representing ballots

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Four days before the primary election in 2022, about 15.5 percent of voters had returned their ballots. In 2020, the most recent primary in a presidential election year, about 26.5 percent of voters had returned their ballots at this point ahead of Election Day.

Voters will decide on party nominations in various congressional and state legislative races, as well as a handful of local competitions. Primary winners go on to compete in the November general election.

“It’s a bit surprising, especially considering the races we have in (Congressional Districts) 3, 4 and 5 — and 8, for that matter,” said Matt Crane, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, referring to competitive Republican races in those right-leaning districts.

“We’ve seen more of a trend of more and more people dropping their ballots off on Election Day, so we’ll see if that continues,” he said.

An influx of ballots returned on Election Day, however, could result in a longer process to call race results, especially where margins are expected to be very close. Voters will need to be patient, he said, as county clerks and their election teams process ballots and potentially announce winners after Tuesday night.

Crane said that most clerks he has spoken with have been “underwhelmed” with turnout so far.

“This is my 20th year in elections, and to see such little turnout is definitely heartbreaking, because we want to provide every option for people to have their voice heard. Every election is important, whether it’s a general or a primary,” Weld County Clerk and Recorder Carly Koppes said. “How we keep a living and breathing government is participating in elections.”

In her county, Koppes said the number of returned ballots at this point is about 3,000 ballots behind 2022 numbers and almost 20,000 ballots behind 2020 numbers. The low turnout extends to the approximately 60,000 Weld County voters eligible to vote in the special vacancy election in the 4th Congressional District.

“People may be burned out already from the election cycle,” Koppes said of a potential reason for low turnout. “It’s already been not super pleasant. People may be wanting to enjoy their summer before participating in the election, but my inkling is that people are over the antics right now.”

She said she is leaning on county party officials to remind members to drop off their ballots.

People registered with either the Democratic or Republican party can vote in their party’s primary. Unaffiliated voters, which make up the largest voting bloc in Colorado, can vote in either primary.

Voters have until 7:00 p.m. on June 25 to submit their ballot at a drop box or physical voting center. People can also register to vote, update their registration and cast a ballot at a voting center.

Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and X.