310,000 signatures submitted for measures to restore presidential primary and to open primaries to unaffiliated voters
DENVER â€” Colorado voters have the opportunity to re-institute a presidential primary and to open taxpayer-financed primary elections to unaffiliated voters under initiatives whose backers submitted petitions today.
Let Colorado Vote delivered petitions containing more than 310,000 signatures to the Colorado Secretary of Stateâ€™s Office today in order to place the measures on the November ballot.
"Only 6 percent of registered Colorado voters participated in the recent caucuses,â€ said Kent Thiry, chairman of Let Colorado Vote and CEO of DaVita Inc. â€œSimply put, we believe restoring the presidential primary and opening primaries to all voters is good for democracy.â€
â€œThe 310,000 signatures we submitted today underscore the broad level of support for these measures based on the belief that all voters should be given an opportunity to participate in taxpayer-funded primaries,â€ added campaign vice chair Don Childears, President and CEO of the Colorado Bankers Association.
The Secretary of Stateâ€™s office will review the petitions to determine that at least 98,492 valid signatures were submitted for each measure, and then approve the statutory initiatives for the ballot.
The measures are:
- Initiative 140, which would restore a presidential primary and allow unaffiliated voters to participate without joining with a party;
- Initiative 98, which would allow the stateâ€™s more than 1 million unaffiliated voters to participate in taxpayer-financed primary elections without affiliating with a party.
Colorado leads the nation in the growth of unaffiliated â€” or independent â€” voters since 2008, and they now make up 36% of all voters in the state.
But unaffiliated voters in Colorado face barriers that donâ€™t exist in most other states. Colorado is among a minority of states that excludes unaffiliated voters from taxpayer-financed primary elections, and history shows that this system discourages participation.
Turnout for Coloradoâ€™s primary elections has been dropping since 2010, and just 1 in 5 voters participated in the stateâ€™s June primary. The current primary does not include the presidential race, which is handled through a caucus system with preference polls rather than official ballots. Fewer than 200,000 of the stateâ€™s 3 million voters participated in the March party caucuses.
â€œAlmost 50 percent of voters age 40 and under in Colorado have chosen not to join a party; and two-thirds of new voters in 2014 made that decision,â€ said campaign vice chair John Hereford, a partner at Oak Leaf Energy Partners. â€œIt is clear that we must do a better job to encourage participation, especially among young voters.â€
Said campaign vice chair Kelly Brough, President and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce: â€œVoters understand that these measures are fair, that they will align Colorado with the majority of states, and that they can encourage lawmakers to pursue solutions instead of partisanship.â€
Let Colorado Vote has drawn support from a diverse array of individuals and organizations, including: Gov. John Hickenlooper; former Govs. Bill Ritter, Bill Owens, Roy Romer and Dick Lamm; former U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Hank Brown; Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers; former Transportation Secretary Federico PeÃ±a; and civic and business groups including: the Metro Mayors Caucus, Club 20, Colorado Concern, the Colorado Contractors Association, the Colorado Association of Realtors, the Vail Valley Partnership and the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.
For additional information, visit: www.letcovote2016.com