The Procrastinator's Guide to Voting in the Upcoming Primary Election

If you're like me, you got your ballot for the 2018 Colorado Primary Election in the mail in early June and promised you'd get to it ASAP. You put it on top of one of the paper piles in your apartment to research after dinner. But your will to research was hastily thwarted by eating an entire box of macaroni and cheese yourself and passing out in front of Golden Girls re-runs. And then you had to work every day. You unearthed your ballot a couple times and meant to get to it, you know, right after doing that load of laundry. And then it was a busy, hot weekend and you were too exhausted and dehydrated to make informed decisions about the future of our state. Suddenly, the Primary election is FIVE DAYS FROM NOW on Tuesday, June 26. And now you are panicking a little bit about performing your civic duty by the time the polls close. Do not fret for it is not too late if you want to vote! 

First of all: let's forgive ourselves. For one thing, I'm not convinced Odysseus himself could resist the siren song of cheese sauce and indestructible Miami friendships. Additionally, many Coloradans are simply not used to being able to vote in a primary. Primaries are new to Colorado as of 2018. Under the previous caucus system in Colorado, unaffiliated voters were not able to participate in choosing a candidate for the November general election. But the new primaries are open to voters who have not registered with a particular political party. Unaffiliated voters are actually Colorado's largest voting bloc, representing 40% of all registered voters according to Colorado Public Radio. We're living in the future now!

One important piece of information to remember, my unaffiliated friends: unaffiliated voters received two ballots in one envelope, a Democrat ballot and a Republican ballot. Each voter may only return one of these two ballots. Quite a few unaffiliated voters have already voided their vote by returning both. So when getting ready to return, remember: like the Highlander, there can be only one (ballot returned in order to be counted). Two ballots enter (your home): one ballot leaves (to be cast).

Something else to know: if you are not registered to vote in Colorado, you can still do so but it is too late to receive a ballot in the mail. Take a look at the Colorado Secretary of State's Election Page to view a calendar and more information on the voter registration process. If you are a Denver voter, the local government page on the primary has tons of information, including maps of voting locations and ballot drop-offs, sample ballots from both major parties, and Denver's ballot tracking system. If you visit our Blair-Caldwell, Ross-Cherry Creek, or Bear Valley branches, those are the three DPL locations with ballot drop-off boxes!   

Now that we've cleared up those very important nuts and bolts, here are some good sources for doing a little bit of research into the ballots' contents. Here is a non-exhaustive list of sources to get you started:

  • The Denver Post has pretty extensive 2018 election coverage. If you hit the Post's paywall and don't have your own subscription, your library card grants you access to a database called America's Newspapers (second on this list of our online news subscriptions) that has the Post and a hundred other Colorado news outlets. Please note that America's Newspapers does not provide access to the most current issue, but hey, this post is designed for people that have a lot of catching up to do anyway.   
  • If you own a TV, you've likely seen a lot of political ads. Denver's local CBS affiliate has a series called Reality Check in which their political specialist, Shaun Boyd, analyzes these ads on TV to place the claims made in the ads in context. 
  • I don't know about you, but I feel like the way candidates conduct themselves under scrutiny helps me make better decisions about them. The gubernatorial debates were rotated among different networks starting in April, but they are all watchable online. Please note that each party had its own debate, i.e., there is a Democratic debate and a Republican debate. Here are links to various coverage on YouTube:

  • Colorado Public Radio also has coverage of the election that is available for free. If you want to see how gubernatorial candidates answer tough questions one-on-one, Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner has interviewed every gubernatorial candidate. To find these interviews, look for the phrase "on the record" in the link above.

Don't forget also that Google can be your friend here. A lot of what I've linked to here covers the gubernatorial race, but there are also candidates vying for the Colorado General Assembly and to represent Colorado House Districts on Capitol Hill. Running names through a search engine reveals some national or unexpected sources where you can decide how candidates measure up. 

If you find yourself uncertain about certain issues, we are here for you. On our DPL Research page, one of our Popular Topics is about Elections. You can find some sources our librarians have curated to help you look at local news and big-picture issues affecting the nation. In particular, CQ Researcher provides comprehensive summaries to both sides of several hot-button issues.

Final pep talk to those who still want to vote in Tuesday's primary: making informed decisions is a tall order, but I believe in you! At 7:01 p.m. on Tuesday, breathe a sigh of relief, grab a box of mac and cheese (or another treat of your choice) and pause The Golden Girls from time to time to see how things shake out! 

If you have questions about using these resources, feel free to Ask Us or call Reference Services at 720-865-1363! 

The image used for this blog post is from Theresa Thompson's Flickr and is marked for re-use by a Creative Commons license.

Written by Lauren on June 18, 2018


FrankW on June 21, 2018


Great information Lauren! Thanks for the fun read and also the great leads for getting my research done this week!!

NancyB on June 26, 2018


Thanks for helping me do my civic duty! I used it yesterday when I finally filled out my ballot.

Tiffany Locke on August 2, 2018


I like that you mention how looking online can help you learn more about the various candidates and compare the different options. When doing this, you'd probably want to research the different sources to find websites that are reliable so that you can get accurate information. It could also help to check out the candidate's official website to learn more about their thoughts and policies in order to figure out which one you think is best.