Proposition 108 would allow unaffiliated voters to participate in non-presidential primaries

Haley Candelario

Proposition 108, known as the Unaffiliated Elector Initiative, is an initiated state statute that will appear on the 2016 Colorado election ballot.

Proposition 108 is the companion measure to Proposition 107. Proposition 107, if passed, will establish a presidential primary election that will allow unaffiliated voters to participate. While Proposition 107 exclusively affects presidential primaries, Proposition 108 will open non-presidential primaries to unaffiliated voters for down-ballot candidates at the state, county and federal level.

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Proposition 108 would allow independent Colorado voters to vote in a major political party’s non-presidential primary election without requiring voters to proclaim an affiliation with a political party.

Proposition 108 also allows political parties to choose not to hold a primary election open to unaffiliated voters. Political parties instead could choose to nominate a candidate by assembly or convention that is limited to voters affiliated with that party.

Support for Proposition 108 states that the statute will provide an opportunity for unaffiliated voters to vote publicly by selecting candidates for the general election. Support for the statute also states that it will make primary elections easier and more accessible for unaffiliated voters.

Additional support for the proposition states that, since one-third of all registered voters in the state are unaffiliated, they result in candidates that better represent Coloradans.

Selena Aguiniga, a first year biology major, said that Proposition 108 would allow independent voters the opportunity to exercise their right to voice their opinions in the primaries.

“(Proposition 108) would allow for people in the independent party to have more publicity because it’s not just Democrats and Republicans (voting) anymore,” Aguiniga said. “It’s the (independent) voters that actually get a chance to have their voices heard instead of being hidden behind the Democrats and Republicans.”

Arguments against the proposition state that allowing unaffiliated voters to participate will result in about 7 percent of the ballots not being counted. This would affect the winners of the election and increase the cost for taxpayers since counties have to must produce separate combined ballots for unaffiliated voters.

Unaffiliated voters can also participate in a political party’s primary election by changing their political affiliation at any time before and on election day, arguments against the proposition state.

Colorado currently has a closed primary system, so only registered party voters can participate in a specific party’s primary. Primaries in Colorado convened to elect party nominees for state, county and federal offices other than the presidency also currently do not allow unaffiliated voters to participate.

If Proposition 108 is passed, unaffiliated voters who wish to participate in the primaries will receive a combined ballot with all candidates for each political party clearly separated on the ballot. Unaffiliated voters may only select one candidate from a single political party. If candidates from more than one political party are selected, the voter’s ballot will not be counted.

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Political parties that are not classified as major parties, such as the Green Party and the Libertarian Party will also be included on the combined ballot. A minor party, however, may choose to exclude unaffiliated voters from voting in the primary election and only allow voters affiliated with that party will receive the ballot. The exclusion of unaffiliated voters only applies to primary elections of minor parties.

Counties may also determine whether or not a combined ballot is practical. If a county decides a combined ballot is unpractical, independent voters will acquire a separate ballot for all major political parties engaging in the primary election. Voters may return one ballot for one party if they receive separate ballots.

Collegian Reporter Haley Candelario can reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @H_Candelario98.