It seems hard to imagine but the season during which the political parties choose their candidates by primaries is on the distant horizon. Before that, there is a period of announcements by candidates, submission of petitions, caucuses and assemblies to decide which candidates will make it onto the general election ballot. If there is enough support for more than one candidate, there will be a primary election.

Then the usual messy stuff often results, especially among Republicans lately, with endless bickering and beating competing primary opponents into the dirt to save their general election opponent the trouble.

This next cycle however, has a wrinkle added by our Legislature which, in keeping with most of the legislation that came out this year, is unnecessary, expensive and with a poorly hidden partisan agenda.

A particular example recently signed into law came into being as a result of House Bill 1278, which allows 17-year-olds to vote, increases the number and location of polling places, and provides more methods to get the courts to quickly interject themselves into the process on Election Day by claiming a number of things — a couple of which I think, are intentionally ambiguous.

The elections law section enacted under this bill that is most often reported is that it allows 17-year-olds who will turn 18 before the general election to vote in primary elections.

The necessity for this step and the resulting complexity and cost to Colorado's county clerks — all of whom opposed the notion — is vaguely articulated and remarkably unconvincing.

The reason for that is because all of the offered reasons, such as getting young people to participate in the process earlier and whatnot, aren't the driving forces behind the legislation. It's the belief among progressives that the younger the voter, the more likely they are to vote for the progressive agenda.

This is particularly significant, because the most notable characteristic of very young people is a lack of life experience. That's not a tricky realization, considering they haven't had much life as yet.

Moreover, if you examine the most hunted groups for voting reform by progressives, you'll find they are increasingly the young and inexperienced, those new to the country or convicted felons who previously were not allowed to vote.

If someone is trying to build a platform supported by those constituencies, it suggests that they're putting forth ideas that are not supported by the mainstream voter and are reduced to recruiting support from those who don't know any better or who have a long history of poor choices.

Along those lines, the new legislation, in addition to adding a large number of polling places and drop-off locations on college campuses, prohibits these things from being located in a sheriff's office, police station or town marshal's office. The reasoning behind this has been expressed that such places are intimidating to minorities and others who might feel unsafe in such an environment.

Many things have changed, but I still remain under the impression that most who don't want to be in the presence of law enforcement are those who have committed or are about to commit a crime.

If that were not enough, this legislation broadens the ability for groups to petition the district court in their area to order the polls to be held open for a longer period of time, up to six hours longer, due to a whole raft of reasons, including if "ACCESS TO OR VOTING AT ONE OR MORE POLLING LOCATIONS IN THE AFFECTED COUNTIES HAS BEEN SUBSTANTIALLY IMPAIRED DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER, EQUIPMENT FAILURE, TECHNOLOGICAL PROBLEMS, VOTER SUPPRESSION ACTIVITIES, A SHORTAGE OF SUPPLIES, OR OTHER EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCE."

Most of these terms are a little vague and not defined; however, one might take particular notice of the phrase "Voter Suppression Activities" which is also not defined and seems to encompass a lot of behavior that seems to live predominantly in the eye of the beholder.

The purposes of this new legislation seem fairly obvious — that is beyond insulting law enforcement. Apparently it presumes the voting public is too dim to figure out the motivation for these changes.

Rick Wagner is a Grand Junction attorney. Email him at rickwagner@columnist.com. His weekly political talk show airs on KNZZ 1100 AM/92.7 FM on Saturdays at noon.

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