This year might have been your last chance to participate in a presidential caucus in Colorado. State lawmakers are considering switching to a primary after widespread frustration with how the process went this time around. For Democrats, record turnout meant overcrowded precincts, with some voters facing long waits and meetings that moved outside into the frosty March night. For Republicans, the party’s decision to drop their caucus straw poll left many members disappointed and disenchanted — especially supporters of Donald Trump, who felt the change was made specifically to disadvantage their candidate. “Folks are angry,” said state Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City. “And if we want to show them we heard them, then we should do something this legislative session.”
Moreno is sponsoring a bipartisan bill to move to a presidential primary. Colorado first adopted caucuses in 1912. It did briefly switch to a primary in 1992, but returned to caucuses in 2002 as a cost-saving measure. The state pays for primaries; parties pick up the bill for caucuses. At his bill’s first hearing last week, Moreno argued the current process disenfranchises lots of voters.
“You have to be able to attend a caucus for hours on an evening. And if you couldn’t find a babysitter or you had to work that evening — sorry, you’re left out,” said Moreno.
Whatever their reason, the vast majority of party members do skip the caucuses. This year’s record-breaking Democratic turnout only amounted to 13 percent of the party’s active voters. Republicans did worse, with a 6 percent turnout. Proponents hope moving to a primary would boost those numbers.