Our view: Unaffiliated voters can now take part in June 26 primary | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Unaffiliated voters can now take part in June 26 primary

At issue: Colorado’s 1.4 million unaffiliated voters may cast primary election ballots.

Our view: The June 26 primary election marks an overdue moment in Colorado voters’ rights.

For too long, the 1.4 million Colorado voters who are registered as “unaffiliated” have been frozen out of participating in primary elections, unless they were willing to temporarily register with one of the major parties and then go through the process of reverting to unaffiliated status for November elections.

That changed with the passage in 2016 of Proposition 108, which allows registered unaffiliated voters to vote a primary ballot in one, but not both, of the major primary elections.

Historically, that apparent inconvenience has resulted in unaffiliated voters standing on the sidelines through primary elections that play the critical role of selecting the candidates most likely to prevail in the November vote.

We believe that asking unaffiliated voters to temporarily align themselves with either the Democratic or Republican party is more than an inconvenience. Presumably, unaffiliated voters choose that status  based on philosophical  differences with the two major parties.

Democracies are the strongest when voter participation is higher.  Bringing unaffiliated voters into the voting process at the primary level also makes us stronger.

The office of Colorado Secretary of State Wayne W. Williams reported this week that the 6,668 unaffiliated voters in Routt County are the largest voting block here. As of July 2017, there were 5,171 registered Democrats in and 4,743 Republicans in Routt County.

And unaffiliated voters matter. Most of our readers, who pay close attention to state and national elections, would probably agree that it is often unaffiliated voters who sway the outcome of Congressional and presidential elections. We would speculate that it is the unaffiliated voters who are most apt to cast their ballots based on issues rather than some Democrats or Republicans, who tend vote a straight party ticket.

Routt County Clerk Kim Bonner said this week candidates whose names will appear on the primary ballot won’t be finalized until after the major party state assemblies April 13 and 14.

Don’t expect to see contested primary races at the Routt County level on the June primary ballot but realize that voting for an unopposed primary candidate can register approval.

Do look for the Democratic primary to identify the challenger to incumbent Republican Congressman Scott Tipton in the November election from a field of four candidates, and the gubernatorial primary that will sort out the numerous candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, seeking to succeed Governor John Hickenlooper.

The Secretary of State’s Office reported this week that as of April 3, there were 29,484 Coloradans who had indicated a preference for primary ballots.

We hope unaffiliated voters in Northwest Colorado exceed expectations for voter turnout and exercise their new ability to vote in the June primary.

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