Governor signs bill implementing unaffiliated voting

Unless the Colorado Legislature re-addresses the issue when it meets again next year, the primary elections in 2018 in which unaffiliated voters will cast ballots will become publicly known.

That became official Thursday when Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill into law that is aimed at implementing two ballot measures approved by voters last fall.

Those measures were Proposition 107, which requires the state to hold open presidential primaries, and Proposition 108, which opened up all primary races to unaffiliated voters.

Under the measure, SB305, county clerks would mail a ballot to voters for each contested party primary, with instructions to voters to return only one of those ballots.

The new law also makes unaffiliated voters subject to the same rules that impact all voters, in that it calls for tracking and recording of all elections in which voters cast ballots.

That is current law, and it is done without revealing their actual votes.

Having it publicly known in which primary an unaffiliated voter cast a ballot will make it easier for party operatives to target them in future campaign mailings, particularly the general elections that candidates in those primaries are competing.

Backers of the campaign that got the two propositions on the ballot last year said they didn’t much care for that provision in the new law, but didn’t have the votes in the Legislature to combat it.

The bill cleared the House 65-0, and only four Republican lawmakers in the Colorado Senate — Sens. Larry Crowder of Alamosa, Owen Hill of Colorado Springs, Kevin Priola of Henderson and Randy Baumgardner, whose district includes Garfield County — opposed it.

The group that got the measures onto the ballot, Let Colorado Vote, said it planned to challenge that provision of the new law when the Legislature meets again in 2018.

Other bills signed by the governor Thursday include:

■ SB193 creates a national research center to study opioid addiction, and ways to treat it.

■ HB1214 calls on the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade to help employees own businesses.

■ HB1227 continues for another decade a program designed to help businesses save on energy costs through better energy efficiency.

■ HB1354 gives county treasurers more flexibility in collecting taxes on mobile homes, allowing them to enter into payment plans with the homeowner rather than going to court and seizing property.

■ SB132 modernizes the state’s laws on notaries, but leaves out a controversial provision that would have allowed notary work to be done electronically, which some lawmakers opposed because of privacy concerns.

Instead, the bill merely calls for a study of that practice.


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