Next year, unaffiliated voters in Colorado will be able to help pick the Democratic or Republican nominee in a governor's race for the first time without adhering to a party.
Coloradans voted in favor of Propositions 107 and 108 last November, which opens partisan primary elections to unaffiliated voters; however, they can only vote in one primary – not both.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican, talked extensively about the statute at Saturday's town hall meeting in the Durango Public Library.
Unaffiliated voters will receive a Republican and Democratic ballot in the mail for the 2018 primaries, but should only return one.
“We are going to have a campaign ahead of the 2018 primary that reminds people not to return both ballots,” he said. “Never before have we sent a ballot and said you can only vote on some of it, not all of it.”
He said Colorado has the highest percentage of registered voters in America.
More than 3.7 million people were registered to vote in Colorado during the 2016 presidential election, of which about 1 million were unaffiliated voters.
“Coloradans actively participate and are involved,” he said. “We let you vote on more things, such as which judges are retained and a host of policy issues. People tend to be very interested in the process.”
La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Parker said Williams is “very open” and “likes to connect one on one” with county clerks.
“We were able to recap this last election, and discuss what worked and what didn't work,” she said. “It's been from day one that he's had this relationship with all county clerks in Colorado.”
Williams served as the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder from 2011 to 2015 before his election as secretary of state.
“I love the different counties in the state, so I made the decision to get out and visit each one of them every two years,” he said.
Williams fielded a number of questions about unaffiliated voters and primary elections, as well as voter fraud.
The Colorado secretary of state's office and four other states released a study earlier this year that found 112 total instances of possible improper voting during last year's election.
Williams told one story in which a woman was found to be voting as her deceased mother and father.
“Three or four people voted on behalf of dead ancestors,” he said. “Those people have been prosecuted.”
He said Colorado does a “phenomenal” job of keeping its voter registration list updated and catching fraudulent votes.
“Not every state has the process of checking ballots that Colorado does,” he said. “In other states that don't have our process, voter fraud is more rampant.”
He said county clerks receive death records, incarceration records and address changes issued with the post office, among other documents, to keep voter registration up to date.