Beside boxes of ballots, ballot tabulators count votes using scanner and tabulation machines at the Jefferson County Elections building on Oct. 21, 2020. (Eli Imadali/Colorado Newsline)
For the first time, 16- and 17-year-olds in Colorado will be eligible to participate in county caucuses this year.
The passage of Senate Bill 21-250 changed, among other things, a state statute to allow all pre-registrants to participate in the caucus and assembly process, which is a change from a previous rule that only allowed pre-registrants who turned 18 prior to the general election being held during the same year, Raffi Mercuri, chair of the Boulder County Democratic Party, wrote in an email to Newsline. This change applies to all political parties.
As of Tuesday, there were 4,785 people under the age of 18 registered with the Democratic Party, 5,685 people registered with the Republican Party and 81 with the Green Party, according to data on the Secretary of State website.
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The last day for a person to register with either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party to participate in the precinct caucus is between Feb. 7 and Feb. 11, depending on when the county’s caucus date is. To be eligible to vote in a party’s precinct caucus, a person must be a resident of the precinct for at least 22 days prior to the caucus and registered or pre-registered, if the political party allows it, to vote 22 days prior to the caucus.
A pre-registrant with the Republican Party who is 17 on the day of the caucus and will turn 18 on the date of the next general election is allowed to vote at the caucus. A pre-registrant with the Democratic Party who is 16 or older is allowed to vote at the caucus. The rules are set by the political parties, Annie Orloff, the secretary of state’s communications director, wrote in an email. If the Republican Party leaders chose to, they could change their bylaws to allow 16-year-olds to participate in the caucus.
In Colorado, people can pre-register to vote at the age of 16, as long as they meet other voter requirements, including being a U.S. citizen and having been a Colorado resident for at least 22 days prior to the election, according to the secretary of state website.
Coloradans are not eligible to vote in general elections until they are 18.
During precinct caucuses, attendees elect officers who are responsible for organizing political activities within the precinct, and elect delegates to represent the precinct at the political party’s county assemblies.
Another change that will impact this year’s caucus and assembly process is that state law now allows caucuses and assemblies to be held virtually, Mercuri wrote. The Boulder County Democratic Party’s caucus and assembly will be held virtually, but that is not necessarily the case for every other county party.
The Denver Republican Party caucus will be held in person on March 1, according to Diane Wolta, one of the vice chairs of the Denver Republican Party. The last day for a Denver resident to register with the Republican Party in order to participate in the Denver Republican caucus is Feb. 7.
Anyone who is pre-registered or registered as a Democrat in Boulder County can attend the caucus, run for precinct captain, run for delegate to county assembly and state assembly and participate in the process at county assembly of selecting candidates who will appear on the primary ballot, according to a Monday statement from the Boulder County Democratic Party. The last day to register with the Democratic Party in order to participate in the caucus is Feb. 10.
Voters who are not affiliated with a political party are not eligible to participate in party precinct caucuses.
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