Colorado has emerged as a critical battleground for control of the US Senate. Polls show the race between Democrat Sen. Mark Udall and GOP Rep. Cory Gardner within the margin of error. Little reported, however, is the fact that this is the first election Colorado will conduct by mail-in ballot. Voting begins when ballots are mailed to voters on October 14th. Up until a week before the election, voters can still register to vote and receive mail-in ballots.
There will still be polling places on Election Day. Voters can drop off their mail-in ballots at a polling place on November 7th or simply vote in person. The provisions for mail-in ballots, though, means that any GOTV effort has to last for three weeks. This isn’t so much a ground game as a ground marathon.
For three weeks, campaigns will be able to track who specifically has voted and fine tune their messages to build support. Organizations with a large infrastructure can organize buses or other means to help voters turn in their mail ballots as the campaign progresses.
Political observers focus on the air-war campaign, i.e. how much is spent on TV ads and by whom. In Colorado, in particular, these tactics will be less important. Campaigns and outside groups who focus their resources on the final days of the campaign may find their messages arriving after the postmark has already been fixed on the ballot.