Propositions 107 and 108 would recreate a presidential primary in Colorado and open all primaries to unaffiliated voters. Both should be approved.
Both measures would change state law. Both were initiated by proponents who gathered the required number of signatures.
Proposition 107 was prompted in part by the messy way this year’s caucuses worked out. Democrats turned out in such numbers that many events were overwhelmed, while Republican officials chose not to have official preference polls. Too many people felt excluded. A homey relic of another era, caucuses favor party activists and are difficult for working men and women to attend. They are also time-consuming and lack the anonymity of a secret ballot.
Colorado had presidential primaries in 1992, 1996 and 2000 but quit to save money. It has a primary, for other offices but that is held later – this year, June 28 – so as not to conflict with the legislative session.
But by then presidential nominees are usually fixed. Proposition 107 sets the presidential primary in March, when contested races are usually still undecided. It would also allow unaffiliated voters to participate.
Proposition 108 would let unaffiliated voters vote in other primary races, which would still be held later in the year. It respects the parties’ freedom of association by allowing them to opt out and hold caucuses instead. But it also respects the taxpayers by insisting they all be allowed to participate if they are paying for an election.
Given that more than a third of Colorado’s registered voters are unaffiliated, the current system effectively disenfranchises too many people. The hope behind 107 and 108 is that opening primaries to unaffiliated voters could increase voter participation – and perhaps lessen the influence of the parties’ more extreme elements.
Those goals are worth the effort. Vote ‘Yes’ on Propositions 107 and 108.