Voters in La Plata County who are either unaffiliated or members of one of the two major political parties should expect to receive their ballots in the mail later this week.
County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Lee said Monday she sent ballots to 41,942 residents in advance of the March 5 presidential primary.
The county’s 10,126 active registered Democrats will receive a ballot with the eight members running, while the 9,684 active registered Republicans will receive a ballot with the seven members running.
Unaffiliated voters, of which there are 22,132, will receive both ballots.
Voters registered with a minor party will not receive a ballot.
Although unaffiliated voters will receive both a Republican and Democratic ballot, they may only participate in one party primary. Whichever ballot is not used can be discarded, Lee said.
If an unaffiliated voter does try to vote in both Republican and Democratic primaries, the entire packet will be void and neither vote will be counted.
Unused ballots may be discarded without special precaution because election security measures make using them impossible. Although ballots are kept secret and detached from an individual voter’s record, they must be submitted in a signed envelope that is tied to a registration record.
Any ballot that is left in a drop box without an envelope is marked “void” and not counted.
Although votes remain secret, Lee reminded unaffiliated voters that there will be a public record of which party’s primary they choose to participate in.
Both ballots contain the names of candidates who have suspended campaigns. On the Republican side, four of the seven candidates – Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy – have all dropped out.
Former President Donald Trump, Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Ryan Binkley remain in the race.
On the Democratic ballot, there are eight candidates including President Joe Biden.
Unless candidates make a formal request to be removed from consideration in the state, which none have, votes for them will be counted. Submitted ballots cannot be recast even if a candidate subsequently formally withdraws.
Primary elections for state and local office, including county commissioner and district attorney races, will be held June 25 and ballots will be sent out the week of June 3.
Voters can return their ballots by mail or at a drop box. There are six 24-hour drop boxes in the county: four in Durango and one in Ignacio and one in Bayfield.
There are also voter service centers at the clerk and recorder’s office in Bodo Park, the Fort Lewis College Community Concert Hall and the Pine River Library. Voters may drop ballots, register, change their party affiliation or vote in person at the voter service centers.
To ensure that ballots arrive by the 7 p.m. deadline on March 5, Lee says voters should not put them in the mail after Feb. 26, but should use a drop box instead.
For more information on when and how to cast a vote, visit the clerk and recorder’s Frequently Asked Questions document at cms9files.revize.com/laplatacounty.