`Yes’ on 29 provides more choice for voters | PostIndependent.com

`Yes’ on 29 provides more choice for voters

Peggy Lamm

Frustrated with having so few real choices in primary elections? Ever wonder why Colorado even bothers holding primaries when so many candidates run unopposed?

You can blame our convoluted, antiquated system of sparsely attended caucuses and orchestrated assemblies. It’s how a few special interests rubber-stamp their hand-picked candidates and ensure them a place, usually unchallenged, on the primary ballot.

Most other states have no such system, and with good reason.

Colorado’s caucus system serves the agenda of an exclusive club of insiders who like to call the shots and prefer that the public remain in the dark. So far, that has been a safe bet considering that less than 1 percent of registered Republicans and Democrats in our state ever take part in caucuses.

You can break that chokehold by voting “yes” on Amendment 29 in November.

Voting “yes” on Amendment 29 will let each party’s rank and file decide who appears on the primary ballot. It will open the field to competition. It will take politics out of the back room and bring the candidates to you. It will modernize the way we select primary candidates in Colorado.

All candidates will have to petition into primaries, competing on a level playing field with straightforward and uniform rules. They’ll be able to gather signatures by going from neighbor to neighbor, discussing their stands on the issues as they seek support.

Right now, candidates who attempt to skip the caucus process and petition into the primary face long odds. The number of signatures required is too high, and the time allotted to gather signatures in many cases is too short. And even if petitioners succeed, they’re treated by the law as second-class citizens, appearing on the ballot below the names of even the most marginal candidates to come out of the caucus process.

By voting “yes” on 29, you’ll create fair rules for all candidates. As a result, voters will have more options as the system opens up to more candidates.

We need the kind of choice that voting “yes” on 29 will bring to Colorado elections. We’ve seen what happens when candidates coast through primaries unopposed: Voters lose interest. Look at the 14 percent turnout in this summer’s primary balloting.

But don’t fault voters; they have slim pickings. Of 164 legislative “races” in August – 82 Republican, 82 Democratic – only 17 involved opponents. In the rest, the candidates walked across the finish line.

It’s worse still if your community is one of many in Colorado dominated by one party. That party’s primary determines who wins the general election. Do Coloradans really want to leave that decision to a handful of people? Is that democracy?

We at Bighorn successfully promoted Colorado’s Telemarketing No-Call List. So, we aren’t afraid of butting heads with the status quo to make government more responsive to the public, including on elections. Please join us in voting “yes” on 29.

Peggy Lamm is co-chair of Bighorn Ballot, the organization sponsoring Amendment 29.

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