By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – Ballots will begin arriving in Coloradans mail boxes this week for the biggest primary in state history.

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A million more ballots are being printed, sorted and delivered because, for the first time, unaffiliated voters can participate in the primary.

“We’ve been preparing for months for this,” said David Rupert with the U.S. Postal Service, which uses a bar code system to track every ballot. “We know that 32 pallets came off a particular truck at a particular time and then we’re able to track that all the way through the process. You’re going to start seeing your ballots over the next few days.”

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Nicole Landeck can hardly wait for her ballot to arrive.

“I’ve never voted in a primary because I’ve never been a registered Democrat or Republican,” she said.

She says polarization is the result, in part, of unaffiliated voters not getting a say in the primary.

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“We get either extreme right wing or extreme left wing, and I feel like a lot of us are down the middle,” said Landeck.

Statewide, unaffiliated voters outnumber Democrats and Republicans.

Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane says it’s hard to predict how many will vote and how many of those votes will count. Unaffiliated voters will get both a Republican and a Democratic ballot, but if they vote both, Crane says, neither will count.

“Do not disenfranchise yourself by voting two ballots,” he said.

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Arapahoe County has among the most unaffiliated voters in the state – more than Republicans or Democrats – at nearly 139,000, but Crane says the million dollar question is, will they turn out?

“That’s one of the things that we’ve been focused on is voter education and outreach,” he said.

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Choosing which ballot to vote may be tough. This is the first contested primary for governor on both sides in 20 years. Four Democrats and four Republicans are running. The primary determines which Republican and which Democrat make the November ballot.

Unaffiliated voters did have the option of selecting a preference for which ballot to receive. The Secretary of State’s Office says about 42,000 opted to do so; fifty-six percent asked for the Democratic ballot, thirty-eight percent requested the Republican ballot.

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Ballots need to be returned by June 26.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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