Election Watch: A guide to Colorado's caucus system - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Election Watch: A guide to Colorado's caucus system

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Caucuses are happening Tuesday, kicking off the 2018 election calendar. Following changes to our process for selecting candidates following the 2016 election, and the addition of thousands of new Coloradans to our area, we put together a guide to some important questions surrounding the caucus process.

Question: What is a caucus?

A caucus is a meeting of registered voters who elect a delegate to represent their precinct to county party assemblies. On Tuesday, registered party members around Colorado will meet to elect those persons, who then decide which candidates are selected on the county level.

Question What happens after the precinct caucus?

The county assembly will meet no later than March 31, which is 25 days after the precinct caucuses. At that assembly, delegates, selected during the precinct caucus, will nominate candidates for county offices for the primary ballot.  They will also approve the county party platform and choose delegates for the district and state assemblies.

Once the county assembly occurs, the parties organize a district assembly, which picks candidates for Congress, state lawmakers, the state board of education, board of regents and district attorneys. The district assembly also picks delegates to the national party convention.

At the state party convention, the party nominates candidates for statewide offices for the primary ballot. Delegates are also elected to the national party conventions.

Question: Can I caucus?

If you registered with a party before January 8, 2018, you can participate in a caucus. You must be an affiliated party member in order to participate in the caucus. Unaffiliated voters will not be able to participate in the caucus process. A person also must be a resident of the precinct for at least 30 days and registered to vote no later than 29 days before the caucus. Unaffiliated voters can attend the caucus, but they will only be allowed to observe the process and not take part.

Question: What should I expect at a caucus?

It depends. Officers are elected by the people who attend the caucus, who organize the process at individual precincts.

Question: Where do I caucus?

CLICK HERE to find your caucus location for Democrats

CLICK HERE to find your caucus location for Republicans

If those links to not work, you can click here to learn your precinct number.  Once there, click "Find My Registration" and enter your information. Look for the 10 digit number under County and District information. Your precinct number is the last three numbers of that larger number.

Per state rules, the caucus must be accessible to people with disabilities and must have a sign posting designated caucus locations no later than 12 days before Tuesday.

The caucus may be held in a public location or at a private residence open to the public.

Question: What else should I know before going to caucus?

If you were not a resident in your current precinct for 30 days, you must caucus in your old precinct. You also have to be registered to vote for 29 days before the caucus (Before Feb. 6, 2018) in order to participate Tuesday.

Unlike the general election, you must caucus in person. There are no mailed ballots for the caucus process.

Question: If a candidate isn't picked at the caucus level, can they appear on the primary ballot?

If a candidate is not selected in the caucus process, they can still appear on the primary ballot if they obtain enough signatures to appear. If a candidate wins the caucus, it virtually guarantees a spot on the primary ballot.

Question: What changed when Colorado voted to open primaries following the 2016 election?

The 2018 election will be the first primary election under the new open primary system, which allows unaffiliated voters to participate in primaries. Voters will receive two ballots for the primary election, which will be held June 26. Voters will only be allowed to fill out one ballot for a party of their choice. If a voter fills out both ballots, both ballots will be disqualified.

Under the old system, only voters who were affiliated with the Democratic and Republican parties were allowed to participate in the party process. 

Question: If I don't want two ballots in the mail, what do I have to do?

Voters must register with a party prior to the registration deadline for the primary election, which is May 29. In El Paso County, voters can choose which ballot they want, by marking a preference for which ballot they would like to receive. In order to do that, you can update your voter registration and choose your preference here. By choosing your preference, you are NOT affiliating with a party. That is a separate process.

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