EDITORIAL: Let everyone vote: Yes on props 107 and 108

October 27, 2016

Let reality be your guide in deciding whether to make big changes to how Colorado residents choose their political party candidates.

Using that test, it’s time to set aside some good arguments for the current two-party selection system, and vote yes on both props 107 and 108.

Prop 107 would scrap the unwieldy and unfriendly caucus system that Colorado now uses to select political party nominees for president. This year’s disastrous caucuses made clear that modern voters just don’t have the time nor interest in a quaint but unfair process. Just give them a ballot, and Prop 107 does that. But it does much more than that. The measure allows for unaffiliated voters to also vote in the political party primary of their choice.

In this year’s Colorado presidential nominee selection process, it would have meant that you wouldn’t have to have been a Democrat to choose between Bernie or Hillary. Unaffiliated voters could have helped decide that at home on a mail-in ballot. How this would work is that Democrats get to choose among Democratic presidential contenders and Republicans get a ballot to choose among their affiliates. But unaffiliated voters get a combined ballot. They can choose none, or they can choose a contender from one party or the other. Not both.

While we understand this could undermine support of political parties, and maybe invite the disingenuous vote of an elector to pick a “poison” primary candidate to benefit the opposing party in the general election, a reality check says, nah.

Instead, the change reflects the reality that unaffiliated voters are the ones calling the shots here in Colorado. Democrats and Republicans will benefit by offering candidates more palatable to the electorate at large. Currently, political parties are too quick to choose partisan pets, often the choice of determined extremists who hardly represent the bulk of the party. By using this new system, both parties have a better chance of offering up better-vetted candidates that are more attractive to more voters — inside and outside of the party.

That’s the reality, and it’s the same reality that makes Prop 108 even more compelling. This measure uses that same logic, allowing all voters to pick down-ballot nominees if they want — including unaffiliated voters. The current race for U.S. Senate in Colorado and the race for Aurora state House District 30 are perfect examples of the need for such a measure.

Currently, far-right Colorado Springs Republican Darryl Glenn is badly losing a statewide battle to unseat incumbent Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet. Had unaffiliated voters been able to also select a nominee, it would be unlikely they would have chosen an extremist like Glenn. Similarly, House District 30 Republican JoAnn Windholz was also a darling of far-right GOP extremists. Had unaffiliated voters had a hand in selecting a nominee, candidates such as Windholz would become rarer, and voters would have more moderate, better-vetted choices. If Colorado political parties decide they don’t want outsiders choosing down-ballot candidates, there’s a mechanism to opt out and run assemblies or caucuses instead.

These changes are imperfect, because the entire election process is imperfect. But they reflect the reality that a growing number of voters are unaffiliated with either Democrats or Republicans, and extremists and insiders from both parties hold too much sway over who gets on the ticket, and ultimately who runs our governments.

It’s time to give these changes a chance. Vote yes on Prop 107 and Prop 108.