I just checked Wikipedia (librarians use it!), and as I write this I can't believe there have been nine Democratic presidential debates since last June, with two more on the horizon. It feels like Election Season 2020 has been simmering forever, but the heat has steadily been increasing as states select their presidential candidates. Things may come to a boil on March 3, 2020, a.k.a. "Super Tuesday", when 16 states, territories, and a group representing Democratic expatriates have elections scheduled on one day. We here in Colorado are a part of the Super Tuesday group, so our presidential primary is only about a week away! Here is some information to help those wishing to vote.
Ballots, Dates, and Procedures
This is Colorado's first presidential primary in quite some time; we've changed between primaries and caucuses a few times over the past few decades. Our last presidential caucus in 2016 wasn't exactly smooth sailing, so voters decided that we're all aboard the Good Ship Primary from here on out. (There are also caucuses happening on March 7 to determine non-presidential candidates, but that's beyond the scope of this blog.)
Colorado has not one but two primaries this year. The primary held on Super Tuesday is solely dedicated to the question of presidential candidates. The second primary on June 30 will address legislative candidates for the Colorado General Assembly, the US House of Representatives, and the US Senate. And then, of course, with the 2020 general election coming in November, I know I will be spending significant time practicing my bubble-filling skills for most of this year.
As if three elections with two primaries weren't enough, those who are unaffiliated have received two ballots, one Democrat ballot and one Republican ballot. About 40% of the Centennial State is unaffiliated, representing our largest voting bloc. If you are an unaffiliated voter, you may only return one of these ballots. While this is our first primary in a presidential election year, we did have practice with this system during 2018 midterms. So when getting ready to return you ballot, 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 or need to make changes to your registration, you can register to vote at any time, but February 24 is the last day to register and still receive a mail ballot. Those registering later will have to go in person. 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 County voter, the local government page on the presidential 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.
There are other details about voting in the presidential primary you may want to look into, such as voting in person, whether a candidate has dropped out since ballots were printed, or voting as a 17-year-old. There are great guides from the Secretary of State, the Colorado Sun and 9News that answer these questions and more. Colorado's Secretary of State recently said about 10% of ballots have been returned.
As I mentioned above, the ballot due by Super Tuesday only addresses one question: which candidate should win each party's nomination for president?
The results of primary season will determine the presidential nominee by selecting delegates ahead of each major party's national convention this summer, where nominees will be decided for sure. While both parties have different rules for their delegation process Business Insider reports that Donald Trump is very far ahead in Republican races and some states have canceled Republican primaries. There are some helpful Q&As for about how the delegate process works for the Democratic Party from CNBC and Reuters. Washington Post has a primer on why Super Tuesday is important and how more-populous states participating earlier in 2020 could affect it.
So the current ballot may have only one question, but it's a big question. It's also not one that's easily answered. That's why it's important to do your research by learning what matters to you and evaluating claims.
Many media outlets today limit content available to those who do not pay to subscribe. The Denver Post has a paywall to online content that can prevent non-subscribers from accessing its political coverage. Those who are not able to subscribe can visit our Newspapers topic, which allows you coverage from all over the country without asking you to get out a credit card. In particular, America's Newspapers gives you access to more than 100 Colorado publications while Major Dailies can connect you to national stories from the New York Times, Washington Post, and others.
For some free coverage with a Colorado focus, the Colorado Sun has published a guide to candidates on the issues where you can pick either category as a starting place. Colorado Public Radio's content is free as well and gives you access not just to on-the-ground reporting but also to its shows and podcasts.
CBS News is broadcasting February 25th's Democratic Debate on CBS and BET, and will stream the event online on their news streaming service. This is the last Democratic debate before Super Tuesday and the last before March 15th. It's easy to get carried away by good rhetoric, so you might want to turn to sites like FactCheck.org, Politifact, or your news outlet of choice to see just how credible your favorite soundbite is. For tips on evaluating information as you consume it, sites like News Literacy Project have tips and guides. If you're short on time or prefer an audio format, National Public Radio recently developed a Life Kit on spotting misinformation.
Getting up to speed on major issues can be a daunting task. If you find yourself uncertain about where you might stand on issues, we have tools for that too. 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.
My hope is that readers of this post are super prepared for Super Tuesday. But if you're at least adequately prepared to vote confidently, then I feel super great.
The photograph used for this post is a part of our Western History and Genealogy's Digital Collections. More information about this image can be found at this link.