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Carl’s Conservative Corner

Ranked Voting?

by | Nov 27, 2023

A ranked voting proposition is being submitted to eliminate the existing caucus and assembly method of selecting candidates.  Is this a good idea?–my position is–no it is NOT.  While sounding ok, the result is that the concept of a two party system will be eliminated.  The current system, which is a basic foundational block of freedom ensures that you always have a choice to vote for a candidate that philosophically opposes the current officeholder. While this results in our current abrasive rhetoric, having just one position offered is a disaster in the making.  As you read the  article below from THE LOBBY, think about how it would be live under a one party system regardless of which party was the majority party.  After reading please don’t even consider signing the petition in favor of this proposition.  Under our republic, a block of voters holding a minor philosophy always have a voice.  This would likely eliminate that—just an imposition of majority rules for everything!  Note: Supporter Kent Thirty pushed the “open primary” proposal in 2016 that has been a first step towards eliminating the non-majority party.

From THE LOBBY

Colorado voters may face a major decision in the upcoming 2024 election as a proposed ballot measure aims to radically transform the state’s election system.

The measure, sponsored by wealthy former CEO Kent Thiry, would implement an open primary system and ranked-choice voting in general elections, while also eliminating the caucus and assembly process for placing candidates on the ballot. This proposal would also replace vacancy committees with special elections when state lawmakers resign.

Thiry, who has been a driving force behind several election-related ballot initiatives in recent years, has stated that this proposal is a response to the sharp partisan divisions in Colorado and across the nation that pose a threat to democracy. “I think this is about bringing voice and choice back to the people,” Thiry told The Colorado Sun. “Whether they’re Democrats, Republicans, or independents, they need their voice and choice back.”

Here are the details of what the ballot measure would do:

  • Under the open primary system, all candidates for elective office from the state legislative level on up would run on a single ballot, regardless of their party affiliation. The top four vote-getters would advance to the general election.

  • In the general election, voters would rank candidates in order of preference. If a candidate wins more than 50% of the first-preference votes, they would be declared the winner. If no candidate reaches that threshold, candidates with the fewest first-preference supporters would be eliminated. The eliminated candidate’s second-choice votes would then go to remaining candidates. The process would continue until one candidate exceeds 50% of the total vote. Several Colorado cities, including Boulder, use ranked-choice voting for some of their municipal elections.

  • Voters would also be asked to eliminate the caucus and assembly ballot-access process used by Democrats and Republicans. Instead, all candidates would have to collect signatures to make the ballot, which can be very expensive in statewide races. To run for governor, for instance, candidates must collect 1,500 voter signatures in each of Colorado’s eight congressional districts. To run for a state Senate or House seat, candidates must collect just 1,000 total signatures.

  • Unaffiliated voters would be able to sign candidate petitions, which now may only be signed by members of the candidate’s party.

  • Vacancy committees to replace state lawmakers would be eliminated and replaced by special elections when a lawmaker resigns.

If the measure is approved by voters and added to the state’s constitution, it would take effect in 2026.

One of the main changes would be the adoption of an open primary system, where all candidates from the state legislative level and up would run on a single ballot, regardless of party affiliation. The top four vote-getters would then advance to the general election.

In the general election, voters would use ranked-choice voting, where they rank candidates in order of preference. If a candidate receives more than 50% of the first-preference votes, they would be declared the winner. If no candidate receives a majority, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes would be eliminated and their second-choice votes redistributed. This process would continue until a candidate receives a majority of the votes.

Ranked-choice voting is already used in several Colorado cities, such as Boulder, for municipal elections. (THIS VIDEO EXPLAINS HOW IT WORKS.)

The proposed ballot measure would also eliminate the caucus and assembly process, where candidates must secure the support of party activists to be placed on the ballot. Instead, all candidates would be required to collect signatures, which can be costly and time-consuming. In addition, unaffiliated voters would be able to sign candidate petitions, a privilege currently reserved for members of the candidate’s party.

Vacancy committees, which are used to replace state lawmakers who resign, would also be eliminated under this proposal. Instead, special elections would be held to fill the vacant seat.

These changes would first affect the 2026 election, which includes offices such as governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, and a U.S. Senate seat.

However, getting this measure on the 2024 ballot will not be easy. Supporters will need to collect roughly 125,000 voter signatures, representing at least 2% of voters in each of Colorado’s 35 state Senate districts. And even if it makes it to the ballot, it will need to be approved by 55% of voters because it amends the state constitution.

In addition to facing these challenges, the 2024 ballot is expected to be crowded with other measures, including ones related to abortion access and the state’s property tax system.

Thiry has a history of successfully getting election-related ballot measures passed in Colorado. In 2016, voters approved a measure that allowed unaffiliated voters to participate in either party’s primaries. And in 2018, Thiry backed two constitutional changes that established independent commissions to redraw boundaries for Congress and the state legislature.

As Thiry and supporters of the measure begin the process of collecting signatures, the organization Unite America and another national nonprofit, Open Primaries, are expected to provide support, as they have in other states such as Alaska.

Thiry has also been making the rounds in Colorado’s political circles to build a coalition of Democrats, Republicans, and independents in support of the proposal.

While the proposal may face opposition and potential legal challenges along the way, Thiry remains confident that voters will respond positively to the measure. “The polling is significantly stronger than we expected,” he said. “We have been surprised at how many Coloradans are unhappy about how democracy is breaking.”

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