Friday, October 21, 2016

CO Proposition 108 Would Open State, Local Primaries to Unaffiliated Voters

Colorado voters are being asked to allow unaffiliated voters to participate in Non-Presidential Primary Elections.

The statutory Proposition 108 question reads, “Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning the process of selecting candidates representing political parties on a general election ballot, and, in connection therewith, allowing an unaffiliated elector to vote in the primary election of a political party without declaring an affiliation with that party and permitting a political party in specific circumstances to select all of its candidates by assembly or convention instead of by primary election?”

The ballot question is separate of another ballot issue, Proposition 107, which would allow unaffiliated voters to participate in Presidential Primary Elections.

Proposition 108 comes as unaffiliated voters grow tired of the two-party system. Unaffiliated voters make up one-third of voters in Colorado. The current system allows only voters affiliated with a Political Party to vote in that Party’s Primary Election.

While unaffiliated voters are allowed to affiliate with a Party up to and including the same day of the June Primary Election, many don’t want to pledge to a Party to participate in the Election, which includes State, County and Federal offices, other than President.

Proposition 108 would no longer require voters to affiliate with a Party to vote in a Non-Presidential Primary Election. Unaffiliated voters would receive a combined ballot that shows all candidates for elected office for each Political Party.

The combined ballot would be separated by Party, so that unaffiliated voters only vote in contests for one Political Party. Voting for multiple Parties would spoil the ballot. In some cases, clerks might choose to send unaffiliated voters two separate ballots, which would be divided by Party. Unaffiliated voters would return only one of the ballots.

Minor parties, such as the Green Party and Libertarian Party, would be included on the combined ballot.

There is an option in the ballot question that would allow Major Parties to opt out of holding a Primary Election that is open to unaffiliated voters. It would take a three-fourths majority vote of the State Party’s Central Committee. If the Party opts out, then it would nominate candidates in a Partisan Assembly or Convention.

Minor parties would be allowed to exclude unaffiliated voters. Only voters affiliated with the Minor Party would receive that Party’s Primary Election ballot, if the Party chooses to opt out, unlike the Major parties, which would switch to a nominating system.

A “yes” vote for Proposition 108 would allow unaffiliated voters to participate in the June Primary Election.

A “no” vote would maintain the current system, which excludes unaffiliated voters.

Supporters say Proposition 108 would give unaffiliated voters, whose tax dollars help pay for the $5 million Primary Election every two years, a chance to participate.

Proponents argue that unaffiliated participation would lead to candidates who better represent all Coloradans. It also would increase participation, supporters say.

Opponents, however, say the combined ballot would lead to confusion, in which voters would vote for multiple Parties, thereby spoiling their ballots. This would change Election results and lead to lawsuits.

There’s also the burden the initiative would place on County Clerks, who would have to print and process combined ballots, or send two separate ballots to voters.

Critics say the measure is unnecessary, pointing out that voters can register with a party up to and including election day to participate.

Parties also worry about non-members having a say over candidates who represent the Party.

Opening the vote to all voters is a first step. The problem with 107 is, it still restrict the voters to choice only one Party's candidates. The ideal fix would be to allow all voters to pick their choice of candidates, regardless of Party.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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