Colorado Governor: Independents Pay for Primaries; They Should Get a Vote

In an interview for Colorado Public Radio, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said he supports most of the state initiatives that will appear on the November ballot, including two initiatives that would bring back presidential primaries and open state and federal primaries to independent voters.

“I support the presidential primary because I think it’s good for Colorado. I think it puts us on the map and it gets more people involved in the primary,” Hickenlooper said on Initiative 140.

Initiative 140 would replace the current caucus system, in which only registered Republicans and Democrats can participate in their respective party’s presidential preference elections. Colorado previously replaced its old caucus system with presidential primaries in 1992, but reverted back to the caucuses after the defeat of Initiative 29 in 2002.

Not only does Hickenlooper support going back to presidential primaries, but he supports allowing all voters, including the 36 percent of registered voters who are independent, to participate in federal and state primary elections (Initiative 98).

“Independent voters — they’re paying taxes, they’re paying for these elections. They should be allowed to have a role in that. I think it makes perfect sense,” he said.

Both initiatives, pushed by the nonpartisan organization Let Colorado Vote (LCV), were approved for the November ballot on August 24 after LCV submitted 310,000 signatures to the secretary of state.

More people signed the petitions to get the initiatives than participated in the 2016 presidential caucuses. Less than 190,000 of the state’s 3 million voters participated in the June caucuses.

“Colorado voters value independence and want elections that encourage participation,” said Kent Thiry, LCV Campaign Chair and CEO of DaVita. “Only 5% of voters participated in the March caucuses, which is not a sign of a healthy democracy. Our initiatives will fix that and allow more than 1 million unaffiliated voters to participate in elections that they currently pay for, but thus far have been excluded from.”

LCV touts a vast array of support, including Hickenlooper, Govs. Bill Ritter, Bill Owens, Roy Romer, and Dick Lamm, as well as former U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Hank Brown. Both initiatives also have the support of several local politicians and civic and business groups.

 Photo Source: AP