Opinion

Unaffiliated voters, felons could benefit from election tweaks

kgreen@idahostatesman.com

Just as in Idaho, Colorado unaffiliated outnumber those from either party

The Denver Post

If Colorado is going to restore its presidential primaries, it should go as far as possible to giving unaffiliated voters not only a voice, but an equal voice.

Whether a bipartisan bill that will be introduced soon in the legislature will do that is unclear. A draft we’ve seen is an admirable product in many ways and does offer unaffililated voters an opportunity to participate. But if they want to vote a mail ballot, which of course has become the norm in Colorado, they’ll have to take steps that Republicans and Democrats don’t. They’ll have to request a primary ballot rather than have one sent to them automatically.

As a result, we suspect, most independent voters who actually end up participating in a presidential primary under the proposed scheme would do so on the day of the election. They’d go to their local polling site and declare a temporary party affiliation, as the bill requires, and then cast a ballot.

Admittedly, that process is hardly oppressive. It’s similar to how most voters have cast ballots for generations. But it is not how most voters cast their ballots now in Colorado. And if lawmakers are going to bring back presidential primaries, they should strive to give all voters — who are paying equally for the election, by the way — the same convenience.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who backs the plan, said at a press conference Thursday that if independent voters are sent a ballot with both party options, some will undoubtedly ignore instructions and vote in each primary, which would result in canceled ballots. It’s a serious objection, but critics who seek a level playing field have serious concerns, too.

Unaffiliated voters in Colorado now outnumber the total for either party. And perhaps even more significantly, their percentage of the electorate has continued to climb.

The percentage of unaffiliated voters is highest among voters in their 20s and 30s, who simply do not identify with either major party to the extent that earlier generations did.

We applaud the growing bipartisan support for presidential primaries, and welcome the upcoming bill — but hope lawmakers find some way to ensure wide participation by the unaffiliated.

Felons who served their time should be able to vote

Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe used his executive powers last week to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 convicted felons in his state –– and Republicans are furious.

While some have feigned anger at the addition of murderers and rapists to the voter rolls, their real outrage comes from their belief that the move was political. Virginia Republicans issued a statement Friday saying the governor’s order was pure “political opportunism” and “a transparent effort to win votes.”

McAuliffe, it turns out, is tight with the Clintons, and a significant number of the people affected by the order just so happen to be black ––– the majority of whom vote Democrat. According to a story in the New York Times, one in five blacks in Virginia cannot vote.

Maybe it is a partisan move –– and it probably is –– but does it matter?

We should be celebrating any decision that allows more citizens to participate in the democratic process –– isn’t that the American way? Aren’t we spreaders of democracy? For the GOP, however, it appears winning elections is more important than ensuring American citizens aren’t deprived of their most basic rights.

The order applies to felons –– including murderers and rapists –– who have already served prison time and finished parole or probation. It will allow them to register to vote, run for public office, serve on a jury and become a notary public. The order would have to be re-issued to apply to felons completing their sentences in the future. . .

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