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Two weeks ago approximately 64 percent of “active” registered Colorado voters received primary election ballots. Although I am “active,” I did not receive a ballot. As one of the 35 percent of Colorado voters “unaffiliated” with either major official party, all I received was a letter stating that I need to “affiliate” in order to vote.
The U.S. Constitution and the Colorado Constitution guarantee “freedom of association,” which is the freedom to associate with whom we please, which necessarily includes the freedom not to associate or to decline to associate with certain persons or organizations.
The U.S. Constitution and the Colorado Constitution also provide for such rights as “due process” and “equal protection,” which guarantee the right of citizens to participate equally in the political process.
Colorado law, however, requires me to be a member of a political party in order to vote in the primary election. In order to exercise my right to participate in the political process, I must give up my right “not to associate.” In effect, I have to choose between First Amendment and 14th Amendment rights.
Compounding the problem is that the primary is funded by the State of Colorado using tax dollars. While the 35 percent of us who are “unaffiliated” are not allowed to vote in the primary, we are required to help pay for it. We are first-class taxpayers, but second-class voters.
Recently, a lawsuit was brought in U.S. Federal Court in Newark by a coalition called End Partisanship on behalf of eight New Jersey voters, IndependentVoting.org and the Independent Voter Project. The suit challenges state funding of closed primaries and demands that every voter have an equal and meaningful vote at every stage of the state-funded election process. Independent/unaffiliated voters throughout the country are watching the case closely.
If you would like to know more about the efforts of unaffiliated voters to bring full voting rights to Colorado residents, please contact me at giballard@Q.com.
Coalition of Independent
Voters in Colorado (“CIVIC”)