Colo. Bill Would Give 1.3 Million Independent Voters Full Access to Elections

House Bill 1354 was introduced in the Colorado Legislature in April by Democratic State Rep. Dominick Moreno. The bill could possibly open up the Centennial State’s primary elections to 1.3 million registered unaffiliated voters.

The bill reads:

[T]he bill requires that all political parties that are entitled to participate in the primary election must have their candidates placed on a single combined ballot to be used by unaffiliated electors that contains the names of the candidates of each of the political parties.

Though it sounds similar to the nonpartisan systems in Washington and California, HB 1354 includes provisions that make it unique from other primary systems. The bill currently allows minor parties to essentially opt-out, which would allow them to restrict their minor party primary elections to affiliated members only. Similarly, voters who do choose to affiliate with a party would not be allowed to participate in another party’s primary election.

The bill would also afford political parties a way to move off of a primary election system entirely and use a convention system instead.

Currently, about 35 percent of active registered voters in Colorado are unaffiliated. Republicans comprise about 33 percent and Democrats are the third largest with 31 percent.

In previous primary elections, Coloradans were required to affiliate with a party if they wished to vote for a party-aligned candidate in the primary. Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter told the Denver Post:

Nearly four of every 10 Colorado voters chooses not to join a political party. Those voters are disenfranchised from choosing which candidates will appear in the general election…

Read the full report by the Denver Post.

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