Saturday, May 13, 2017

CO Open Primary Bill Advances with Changes

A Measure to Implement Colorado’s new Open Primaries cleared the Colorado Senate and a House Committee in rapid succession last Monday, after Lawmakers reached a late Deal tweaking a Controversial Provision that would ask Independent Voters to Declare a Party Preference.

With the changes, the path now seems clear for Senate Bill 305 to become Law. But it would retain a few key, Disputed pieces from the original Measure:

- Unaffiliated Voters still will be asked before the Election if they prefer one Party’s Ballot to the Other.

- The Party Primary they choose to Vote in still will be a matter of Public Record.

When the Measure was introduced, it immediately was assailed by Supporters of Open Primaries, including the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and Let Colorado Vote, who complained that it would undermine what Colorado Voters intended when they passed two Ballot Measures opening the State’s Party Primaries to Unaffiliated Voters.

At issue is whether Election Officials should be able to track Unaffiliated Voters by which Primary they participate in, much as Affiliated Voters Register with one Party or another.

State Elections Officials and the two Political Parties argue that Voters have to be Tracked by Party to ensure the integrity of the two Primary Elections, while County Clerks and Backers of Open Primaries say it isn’t necessary.

“By declaring a preference, you really become an affiliated voter,” said Kelly Brough, CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. “I don’t think that’s what voters said they wanted in November.”

Under the Amendment adopted Monday, Voters still would be asked if they wanted to Vote in one Party’s Primary or the other, said Sen. Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, one of the Bill’s Sponsors. But unlike the original Bill, that Preference would last only for a single Election Cycle, a concession to opponents who felt that the Initial Process amounted to “de facto affiliation” of Unaffiliated voters.

Under the changes, Unaffiliated Voters would be offered their choice of Ballots again prior to each New Primary Election. Those who don’t indicate a Preference will be sent one Ballot for each Party and be instructed to vote in only one.

Let Colorado Vote, the Group that backed the Ballot Initiative, said in a statement that it was pleased the “most egregious” Provisions of the Bill had been taken out.

“We will continue to seek an expansion of Colorado’s confidential voter laws to include voters who, for personal or professional reasons, do not want to have their primary participation included in public voter registration records,” said Jason Bertolacci, a spokesman for Let Colorado Vote.

The main problem I see with all the different Open Primary Bills, is the Association issue. I would think any Party would not want Non-Party voters taking part in their Election of Party Officials, County and State Committee Members, and Presidential Electors. One way to handle this is to create separate Party Ballots including these Candidates only for Party Members.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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1 comment:

richardwinger said...

This story is a little bit out of date. The bill passed the legislature Wednesday last week.