Colorado’s General Assembly has rushed through House Bill 1278, which makes “miscellaneous” changes to Colorado election law. It vastly increases the number of petition signatures required to place independent and minor party candidates on Colorado’s ballot.
The Unity Party, the Approval Voting Party, the Libertarian Party, Best Democracy, and Unite Colorado (which represents independent candidates) oppose Section 19 of House Bill 1278. If this bill becomes law, the new ballot access restrictions should be repealed next year.
The political system should be more inclusive, open, fair, and representative. We should encourage people to participate in the political process, rather than looking for more ways to shut them out. Under the original language of the US Constitution, about 94 percent of the population was denied the right to vote. We have made progress since then, but we still have a long way to go.
House Bill 1278 would not obstruct the nomination of Unity Party candidates because we are an established minor party. However, we support reasonable ballot access for independent candidates. The Unity Party has an open and democratic nomination process. Prospective independent candidates are welcome to seek the Unity Party’s nomination.
Most candidates of Colorado’s recognized political parties are nominated by party assembly. They don’t need to petition. Independent candidates must petition onto the ballot. This is a labor intensive, expensive, and frustrating process. Unite Colorado reports that average petition drives for major party candidates for statewide office in Colorado cost more than $200,000. House Bill 1278 extends this “pay to play” system.
Unity Party candidate for US Senator
As of May 6, HB-1278 was on its way to the Governor’s desk. It can still be vetoed.