One in 42 unaffiliated voters who tried to participate in Colorado’s first-ever open primaries flubbed it by submitting both Democratic and Republican ballots — ensuring neither was counted. But state election officials, who released numbers Friday, consider the lower-than-expected 2.4 percent ballot rejection rate a success for the inaugural run of the new law in the June 26 primary elections. A total of 293,153 unaffiliated voters returned mail ballots across the state, and 6,914 of those envelopes contained completed ballots for both parties, resulting in their nullification. Backers of Initiative 108, which Colorado voters approved in 2016 to open primaries to unaffiliated voters, praised the outcome in a news release. But they and election officials also said they’d work to lower the rejection rate in future primary elections.
Overall turnout among all registered voters last week was 30 percent. Among unaffiliated voters, turnout was about 19 percent. The initiative gives unaffiliated voters a choice of which party’s primary to participate in.
Since Colorado is a mail-ballot state, that means registered voters without Democratic or Republican affiliations were sent both ballots and told to return only one — a message reinforced by the state’s UChooseCO campaign.
But in the weeks before the primary, Secretary of State Wayne Williams and county clerks sounded the alarm publicly, saying that early submissions suggested plenty of early voters were not reading their ballot instructions carefully and were filling out both ballots.