Letter to the Editor: Not all can vote on commissioners

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Dear Editor:
In your paper two weeks ago, a front page article announced that the County Republican Party was hosting two county commissioner candidate forums for the four Republican candidates in the two districts (West End and East End) up for election this year —one in Rangely and one in Meeker.

I am very glad they planned these forums, but there is a misleading statement in the article, that “all county voters will vote in both districts.” This is not correct.
Under Colorado law, Democrats are not able to vote in a Republican primary, even if there are no unaffiliated or Democratic candidates in the running.
Furthermore, anyone registered as unaffiliated can only vote in the June 28 Republican primary if they are willing to register as a Republican before or on the day of the election, and to remain a registered Republican until they purposely reregister otherwise.
A person can change their affiliation after the state officially closes the election—approximately three weeks later. Until then, the system won’t allow any changes, according to Rio Blanco County Clerk Boots Campbell.
Not that I necessarily recommend it, but any registered voter affiliated with the Democratic Party has through May 27 to change or withdraw their party affiliation in order to be eligible to vote in the June 28 primary.
As stated above, if such a voter registered as an unaffiliated voter, then that voter would have until June 28 to register as a Republican and vote in the primary.
Under current election rules, more than 1 million active Colorado voters —those “unaffiliated” with a party—are excluded from taxpayer-financed primary elections.
Further, by leaving this group out, hyper-partisan candidates are more likely to be the choices for the general election.
According to the Greater Denver Chamber of Commerce, the state’s registered voter affiliation ratio is; Unaffiliated: 35 percent; Republican: 33 percent; and Democrat: 31 percent.
Unaffiliated voters not being allowed to participate in Colorado primaries was a subject of intense consideration in the just-completed 2016 legislative session.
In the end, the Legislature did not reach any agreement.
A group named Let Colorado Vote, however, is working to put a related measure on the ballot this fall. The group has stated that while “lawmakers may not agree on the issue of increasing participation in primary elections, we expect regular Coloradans to overwhelmingly support the idea when given the choice this fall.”
Paula Davis
Rio Blanco County Democratic Party