Secretary Williams seeking input on primary election measure

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams is seeking input from county clerks about a measure voters approved last year that allows unaffiliated voters to participate in primary elections without having to declare membership as a Republican or a Democrat.

Peter Severson, Secretary Wayne Williams and Elena Nunez after the Colorado Social Legislation Committee meeting Jan. 30. Severson is director of the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry and the chair of the CSLC, and Elena Nunez, is executive director of Common Cause and secretary of the CSLC. (SOS photo)

Proposition 108 will go into -ffect before the June 2018 primary election where Coloradans will select nominees for governor, secretary of state and other races. Williams and clerks want answers now on how the measure might work.

“You might be saying, ‘Why is there a rush because it’s a year later that you have to deal with it?'” Williams said when he addressed the Colorado Social Legislation Committee at its Jan. 30 meeting.

He explained the measure means additional costs for county clerks, who must present budget requests to their county commissioners after the start of the fiscal year on July 1. The new method will require more judges and more ballots.

Other groups also have asked Williams to speak on the measure and its companion, Proposition 107, which creates a presidential primary. Williams will discuss the measures at Leadership Jefferson County, which will meet at the Capitol on March. 8.

Secretary Wayne Williams talks with the Colorado Social Legislation Committee about two ballot measures involving unaffiliated voters and the impact they will have on elections. (SOS photo)

Preliminary discussions around Proposition 108 involve sending both a Republican and a Democratic primary ballot to unaffiliated voters and requiring them to mark  only one ballot. Unaffiliated voters who choose a Democrat in one race, say for Congress, and a Republican in another, say for governor, will have their ballots tossed.

Previously, unaffiliated voters could participate in an election but only after declaring to be a Republican or a Democrat.

They could switch back to unaffiliated after voting, which is why opponents said the measure was unnecessary.

Williams told the committee he also has concerns about the costs of aProposition 107, which created the presidential primary and likewise allows unaffiliated voters to participate without changing their voter registration.

Williams already has asked the Joint Budget Committee to have the state finance that every-four year election because the presidential race will be on the only issue on the ballot. He said he is particularly concerned about the cost to outlying areas of Colorado that haven’t seen an economic recovery.

Secretarry Wayne Williams addresses the Colorado Social Legislative Committee at its weekly meeting near the Capitol. (SOS photo)

“When you get out to rural Colorado you don’t see lots of cranes building things. You see buildings that have been abandoned. You see places that are struggling. Those rural counties don’t have the ability to fund a third election in a presidential year,” Williams told the Colorado Social Legislation Committee.

The CSLC bills itself as a coalition of persons and organizations interested in legislation related to human needs and services, especially at the state level. It meets every Monday at noon at the First Baptist Church, 14th and Grant streets near the Capitol, when the legislature is in session, and periodically in the fall during the off session.