ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – For the first time in Colorado history, 17-year-old students are voting in an election. Under new Colorado law, 17-year-olds who turn 18 by the November presidential election are qualified to cast a ballot in the presidential primary on March 3.
“I voted last night. And, that was the first time voting,” said Peyton Glenn, a 17-year-old junior at Arvada West High School.
After learning she qualified to vote in the primary, Glenn was one of many in Jefferson County Public Schools to encourage her classmates to register to vote as well. The district encouraged students who qualified to register and receive their ballots.
Anna Cantwell, a 17-year-old junior at Arvada West, said she was ecstatic to fill out her first ballot under the new law.
“I had to find a pen first, that was a little difficult,” Cantwell joked.
Colorado is the 17th state in the nation to adopt such a law. The intent is to give those who will have the legal right to vote in the November presidential election the opportunity to say who they believe they want to pick from.
“I, personally, am more excited to vote in the primary than I am in the general election,” Cantwell told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.
“I was really excited,” Glenn said. “I thought I was going to miss (the primary), and I would have to vote in five more years, when the next one is.”
Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder George Stern said the county is expecting between 2,500 and 3,000 new teenage voters to participate in the primary. That, mixed with a new law allowing unaffiliated voters to vote in a primary, could align the county for record turnout.
“Ballots went out on Monday. We’ve got 400,000 plus ballots out,” Stern said. “We are working hard to get the word out to our 17-year-olds.”
17-year-olds, like all other voters, are allowed to register as late as 7 p.m. on March 3 to vote in that primary.
“We’re forecasting record turnout for a primary in Jefferson County,” Stern said. “We encourage every voter, whether they are 17 or 70, to take advantage of their right to vote. It is incredibly important.”
A team of workers are already collecting and sorting ballots in a secured facility in Jefferson County.
Those who have already cast their ballots say the opportunity was rewarding, even if their single vote doesn’t end up directly swaying an election.
“I got the sense of control in our politics. I got the sense that I have a voice, and it matters,” Cantwell said.
“We have the potential to change an election. Every vote counts,” Glenn said.
Campaign 2020 Resources
See a list of important dates in Colorado’s 2020 election cycle.
The field of candidates who will be on Colorado’s first presidential primary in 20 years has been largely established. To see a list of the candidates who have submitted a statement of intent and filing fee in order to appear on the March 3 Colorado Presidential Primary (which is also Super Tuesday) click here.
Register to vote through the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.