Journalists as a rule try to cover the news, not be the news. But sometimes, the news comes to you.
That was the case when a CPR staff member opened his ballot Thursday. He's an unaffiliated voter, and as expected received both the Republican and Democratic ballots. Not included, however, were the crucial instructions to only vote using one ballot.
For the first time, counties are mailing both parties' primary ballots to unaffiliated voters, but voters can only return one for it to count. Denver and other counties printed that important information on the privacy sleeves included with ballot materials.
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After some sleuthing -- texting and calling family members and neighbors to please open their ballots -- we determined this unaffiliated staff member had received the privacy envelope that is meant to be paired with party ballots. Other unaffiliated voters received an envelope with instructions in big red font to choose only one ballot and to dispose of the other.
We reported the case to Denver Elections Division, which confirmed for us that the staffer with the wrong envelope did receive the correct ballot. Officials there also checked in with their printers to make sure an entire batch wasn't messed up. Their conclusion at this time?
"This was a true one off," said Alton Dillard, senior public information officer for the elections division.
Dillard added that our call has been his only contact about an incorrect envelope after mailing out more than 131,000 ballots to unaffiliated voters. He also noted that the ballot packages for affiliated and unaffiliated voters are printed entirely separately, deepening the mystery.
"We literally have no idea," Dillard said.
Denver Elections Division knows the issue is sensitive because this is the first-ever primary election where unaffiliated voters can participate. Unaffiliateds are also the state's largest voting bloc.
"This is a brand new process. But because of what happened with this one instance, we're definitely going to look at our processes post-election," Dillard said.