A real war might be raging on the other side of the world, but here in Colorado a group calling itself “People for Association Rights and Bi-Partisan Limited Elections,” (PARABLE) has filed suit in federal court against Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold to declare Colorado’s primary law unconstitutional.
Never mind that in 2016 Colorado voters passed Proposition 108, allowing independent (also known as unaffiliated) voters to vote in the primary elections of the two major parties: Republicans and Democrats. That law made it legal to request a party’s ballot before the election. If a voter chooses not to do that, then they are mailed all parties’ primary ballots, but are instructed to fill out and return just one of the ballots.
Now the lawsuit challenges this Colorado Primary Election law, claiming it to be a violation of their First Amendment rights to Freedom of Speech and Association and their Fourteenth Amendment Rights to Equal Protection of the Laws.
In short, Republicans want to make sure their announcement says they want voters who support their “America First” agenda to select their candidates: in other words, they want only Republicans pick their candidates.
In other words, the voter pool they want must already buy into the “America First” agenda. The “America First” agenda’s focus on border security and trade would prove similar to the populist agenda that Donald Trump rode to victory in 2016.
Why the concern? Originally, Republicans were concerned that allowing unaffiliated voters to weigh in may mean that more moderate candidates ( who often appeal more to unaffiliated and moderate voters) might somehow be gaining traction over the more right-wing of the state’s declared Republican candidates. Now, this effort would appear to suggest an agenda focused on narrowing the voter field to Republicans who support Donald Trump.
The group did not appear out of the blue. According to PARABLE, in fall 2021, the Colorado Republican Party Central Committee passed a resolution that passed with an almost unanimous vote of its more than 500 members, urging that the party or at least some of its membership pursue this litigation.
The suit included a motion to pursue a preliminary injunction blocking the use of Colorado’s Primary law for the upcoming June 28, 2022, primary election. Today being March 21 of an election year, the motion is requesting an expedited review process.
Given the lawsuit’s claim regarding first amendment rights, it would appear that the Parable group believes their rights as Republicans supersede the rights of all eligible voters to help determine which candidates will be on the ballot for the 2022 election.
In fact, documents circulating regarding the lawsuit refer to “Colorado’s tyrannical legislation passed in the last session with 94 percent bipartisan support. Our future elected Republican officials will more closely reflect the America First platform of the RNC, and the will of Colorado’s Republicans, if all primary election voters are registered Republicans.”
Colorado’s approval of Prop 108 was not without some confusion during execution. In 2018, there were voters who didn’t understand that they could choose to vote in the Republican primary, or the Democratic primary — but not both. The state did a major awareness initiative to make it clear to unaffiliated voters that they can only choose one party’s ballot. It had its own official hashtag, Twitter account, and Facebook page, in addition to a webpage that said in bold letters, “Return only one ballot or your vote will not count.”
To see more about the effort, readers can visit: www.MyColoradoGOP.org