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Late Friday afternoon, Chaffee County Clerk and Recorder provided Ark Valley Voice with the certified results of the June 28 primary election, following the canvas. There were no surprises between the unofficial results and the certified election results. As in prior elections, the vast majority of ballots cast were mail ballots.

Dan Smith Photo

In many local races, candidates were running for reelection in their party primary unopposed, meaning that votes cast for them could be considered votes of support for the jobs they have been doing.

This was true in the Chaffee County races for  County Clerk and Recorder, County Sheriff, Coroner, and County Treasurer.

The county election garnering the most interest was the Republican primary for District 3 County Commissioner; a race between Dr. Alison Brown and Brandon Becker.  Becker won, after an unusually high number of voters identifying as unaffiliated voted in the local Republican primary.

A total of 6,116 total votes were cast in the primary election, representing a 40.1 percent return of the total ballots (14,770 mail ballots to active voters and 466 hand-issued ballots by the Salida Office.)

The total number of ballots cast, broken out by political party, reveals more total ballots cast in the Republican primary. This is no surprise, given that all the competitive races would appear to have been in the Republican primary:

Democrat      2,665

Republican    3,451

A number of the county’s unaffiliated voters (meaning they do not belong to any political party) also voted in the June 28 primary for either the Republican or Democratic parties, which is allowed per Colorado state statute.

Total unaffiliated, primary voters:       2,173

Unaffiliated votes for Democrats           843    38.79 percent

Unaffiliated votes for Republicans      1,330    61.21 percent

In looking at the total number of active, registered voters in Chaffee County as of June 28, it is important to point out that there are more unaffiliated voters than any other group associated with a political party; either the two major parties or the other minor party affiliations:

Unaffiliated                 7,217       45.9 percent

Republican Party       4,315        27.4

Democratic Party       3,955       25.2

Other parties                 234          1.5

Total                            15,721

Given the percentages, to achieve a winning number of cast ballots, it would seem that at least one of two things has to occur, and probably both:

  • The candidate has to achieve a high turnout rate from their party’s faithful;
  • The candidate has to have a broad enough appeal to turn out unaffiliated voters in high numbers.

It used to be a given, that the candidate hoping to win elected office should be a qualified candidate, with experience, judgment, character, and the commitment to be running for office to serve the people, rather than personal motives.

Time will tell how the elections shape up this year. The Colorado election season generally ramps up by the end of August, making the months of September and October a busy electioneering timeframe.