Under House Bill 1454, the “Primary Participation Act,” why would anyone permanently affiliate with a party? The only reason would be that he or she had plans to run for public office and wanted a mainstream-media-defined “D” or “R” next to their name.
I’ve barely had time to read the introduced bill. It replaces the presidential part of our caucus with a presidential-only extra primary election. Yet it has already passed in a House committee without amendment and despite many objections by witnesses. It’s on the familiar fast track that makes wide public involvement impossible.
The bill contains discrepancies with Title 1, which governs elections in Colorado — too many to enumerate here. It provides for a confusing extra election with unexplained differences.
More importantly, its “temporary affiliation” feature is clearly a big mistake. Voters will have an obvious incentive to register as Unaffiliated. Without the draw of a presidential nomination process that requires affiliation, the best function of political parties will be damaged beyond remedy. That valuable function is consensus-building at precinct caucuses and at followup county meetings. These voter-connecting events give local meaning to the letters “D” and “R.”
Affiliation and caucus will be attractive only to those who seek public office. They and a very few friends will be the only participants in the caucus remnant.
There is a viable argument that parties have harmed the caucuses through mismanagement. For example, they often combine precincts into caucus “super-sites,” causing overload. Parties may not have not been the best political custodians of caucuses. So perhaps they don’t deserve such a significant role in presidential nomination. That is an argument for HB 1454. However, most sensible arguments would defeat the bill.
Don’t rush another big electoral change before the potential effects on citizens’ involvement are fully explored.
Simply vote “no” on the bill.
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