DENVER–The number of active voters in Colorado edged up only slightly for June, in figures released by the Secretary of State’s office before the holiday break this week.
In all, just under 6,000 additional voters were added to the active rolls in the weeks leading up to the June 26 primary. More than 525,000 partisan ballots were cast in the primary, with Republicans returning approximately 97,000 more ballots than their Democratic counterparts, who saw fewer contested primary battles.
Both parties kept pace, however, when it came to increasing their active voter tallies. Democrats have increased their figures to 713,506 active voters, or 32.0 percent of the 2,231,315 active voters as of July 1. That is up three tenths of a point from May.
Republicans also saw their numbers go up in June, and they now claim 829,259 active voters, up to 37.2 percent of the total number of active voters.
In the typical run-up to primary elections, some unaffiliated voters scurry to affiliate and vote in Colorado’s closed primary. Numbers appear to suggest that again as the number of unaffiliated voters decreased by half a point, down to 29.9 percent. With several months left until the registration deadline for November’s presidential election, the number of unaffiliated voters is once again expected to swell considerably, as both parties rush to sign up voters–whether they affiliate or not.
Two thirds–67.2 percent–of Colorado’s voters have elected to receive Permanent Mail-In Voter status, meaning they will receive their ballots by mail for all elections. The percentage for each of Colorado’s counties varies widely. Rural southwest San Juan County still uses polling places as their primary option, with just 27.8 percent choosing PMIV. On Denver’s urban western border, Jefferson County boasts the state’s highest percentage of mail-in balloters, with nearly 4 out of 5 choosing the option (79 percent).
The breakdown of active voters in each of Colorado’s seven Congressional districts shows the incredible influence of the bloc of unaffiliated voters. Four of the seven districts feature unaffiliated voters as the second largest group of active voters after one of the two major parties. In places like Denver’s 1st Congressional district, the voters help lock up the seat for the Democratic candidate, incumbent Rep. Diana DeGette.
But following the redistricting battle of 2011, the number of unaffiliated voters could prove to be crucial, as smaller margins for incumbents like Democrat Rep. Jared Polis of CD2 and Republican Rep. Mike Coffman of CD6 face reelections with diminished partisan margins that make their districts more competitive than they have been in recent years. Their respective opponents–State Sen. Kevin Lundberg and State Rep. Joe Miklosi–are hoping that a different map in 2012 could lead to upsets in the traditionally Democratic and GOP seats.
The sway of unaffiliated voters could be especially felt in the two most competitive districts in Colorado, Rep. Scott Tipton of CD3 and Rep. Ed Perlmutter of CD7. Tipton upset incumbent Rep. John Salazar in a Republican-leaning district in the Tea Party wave of 2010. Perlmutter, a Democrat, held off his challenger, former Aurora City Council member Ryan Frazier.
Each party’s registration, turnout percentage, and get-out-the-vote efforts will focus on shoring up their core base voters but also extending their message and taking their case to the state’s vast unaffiliated segment.
GOP Chairman Ryan Call began making that case following last week’s primary.
“President Obama’s campaign would like us to believe that everything in the private sector is just fine, but with over 220,000 Coloradans out of work and many more underemployed or struggling to make ends meet, it’s clear Colorado’s families and small businesses have suffered under Obama’s failed leadership,” Call argued.
“Barack Obama simply hasn’t lived up to the promises of his 2008 campaign, and Colorado voters understand that more empty rhetoric cannot erase nearly four years of broken promises and hostile policies. Republicans are rallying to support Governor Romney in Colorado, and the joint campaign operation between the Colorado Republican Party and the Romney campaign will not only elect a Republican President, but Republican majorities in the U.S. Congress and an expanded Republican presence in the state legislature and in local offices as well.”