This week, the 2016 election gets real. Colorado election officials will begin mailing ballots Monday to more than 3,125,300 active voters, and the initial wave of votes is expected by the end of the week. The first mail-ballot presidential election marks a fundamental shift in how elections are managed in Colorado and introduces significant variables to the political calculus that will determine the winners. “Election Day is really a misnomer,” said Eric Sondermann, a Colorado political analyst. “All Election Day is now is the day the ballots are counted. It’s no longer the day ballots are cast.”
The new math is forcing the candidates to revamp their strategy and make their final push weeks earlier than other states as the campaign moves to the “ballot chase” phase.
“This is one of the things that really makes Colorado unique,” said Emmy Ruiz, Hillary Clinton’s campaign state director. “Starting on Monday, when ballots go out, our message will be consistently: Ballots are in the mail. Keep an eye out for them. Return them. Return them, return them, return them.”
More than half of Colorado voters are expected to return the ballots before Nov. 8, and starting next week, state election officials will begin reporting vote totals by party. In-person voting begins at voting centers Oct. 24.