Two propositions are on the Colorado ballot this year that could change the way the state holds elections and who gets to participate.
Proposition 107 would create a primary election to select presidential candidates — Colorado currently has a caucus system — and allow people to vote without being registered with a specific political party. In the last several elections the Democratic Party has held caucuses and the Republican Party has held caucuses or conventions to determine which party candidates the state will endorse, and prospective voters had to register with one of those parties to participate.
Let Colorado Vote, a large supporter of the bill, says that primaries are more accessible than caucuses, which can be complicated and require people to be physically present to participate. It also says a Colorado primary — if Proposition 108 also passes — would be more fair because it would allow independent voters to participate. Currently, about 35 percent of Coloradans are not registered as either Democrats or Republicans.
The chairs of both the Colorado Democratic and Republican parties oppose the measure, stating that political parties and their members should be able to determine which candidate they select for the parties, and that opening the process up to everyone would be unfair. The system would also cost the state more money, because caucuses are funded by the political parties while primaries are paid for directly by the government.
If the measure passed, the primary election would be held by mail ballot.
Proposition 108, the “Unaffiliated Elector Initiative,” is closely tied to Proposition 107. It would allow unaffiliated voters to participate in either major party’s primary without having to declare a political party, and they would receive a ballot with candidates from multiple parties.
Currently, Coloradans must be registered party members to participate in a party’s primary election. Unaffiliated voters currently may register with a political party up through the day of the election, and are also permitted to revert to being independent afterwards.
According to the Colorado secretary of state, the proposition to change that system would increase state spending by a $160,000 one-time cost, and county spending by $750,000 every two years.
Let Colorado Vote is also in support of Proposition 108, as well as the Boulder and Denver chambers of commerce and Gov. John Hickenlooper. The official argument from the secretary of state issue guide says that “allowing unaffiliated voters to participate in primary elections may result in candidates who better represent all Coloradans.”
The opposition is largely the same as for Proposition 108 as it is for 107. In an editorial, the Longmont Times-Call argued that “currently, if an unaffiliated voter wants to vote in a primary, he or she can declare an affiliation at the polls … For the costs associated, this solution is not worth it.”
Contact CU Independent News Staff Writer Carina Julig at Carina.Julig@colorado.edu.