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The Opt-out Vote at the September 30, 2023


In this blog, I’m going to discuss the upcoming Republican SCC meeting on September 30, 2023. The meeting will be at the same venue as the August 5th SCC meeting – in Castle Rock at the Rock Church. The acronym SCC stands for State Central Committee. The State Central Committee consists of all the county chairs, vice-chairs, secretaries and any bonus members of each county, the elected state officers of the party, as well as the elected state legislators and US Congressional members, the Republican National Committee members and District Attorneys and elected state officials. There are currently approximately 439 members of the SCC. The primary purpose of the fall meeting is to determine if the GOP party is going to opt-out of the Colorado primary election the following year (For this meeting, that will be in 2024.)


State Party Chairman Dave Williams listed the following items to be considered at the September 30th meeting:

  • The consideration and adoption of a method to implement a potential Opt-Out of the June 2024 Open Primary; and

  • The consideration and adoption of an Opt-Out of the June 2024 Open Primary; and

  • The consideration and adoption of the Colorado National Delegate Plan to be submitted to the RNC in accordance with RNC Rule 16(f); and

  • To decide if paper ballots will be used at the 2024 Colorado Republican State Assembly and Convention; and

  • To fix the delegate apportionment formula and delegate allocation for the 2024 Colorado Republican State Assembly and Convention, and other higher assemblies; and

  • The consideration and adoption of proposed amendments to the Colorado Republican State Central Committee Bylaws; and

  • The potential appeal of the Adams County Controversy - Controversy No: 23-001

The Open Primary that Chairman Williams is referring to is actually a semi-open primary. This primary was created in 2016 when a citizen initiative called Proposition 108 was placed on the November 8, 2016 ballot. It passed by a 7% majority, 53% – 47%. Proponents spent nearly $5.3 million to promote the initiative compared to the opponents $71,000 they spent to advocate against it. Ballotpedia reports that Denver Businessman Kent Thiry alone donated 2.353 million dollars to promote Prop 108 - Colorado Unaffiliated Elector, Proposition 108 (2016) - Ballotpedia. An interesting side-note, according to Ballotpedia Thiry donated 24 million dollars to promote Colorado Amendment B - the Gallagher Amendment Repeal and Property Tax Assessment Rates Measure (2020). This man is spending A LOT of money in Colorado politics and I had never heard of him before I was doing research to write this blog. It seems to me this shows how money is playing such a big role in Colorado’s elections. It also makes you wonder, what other wealthy individuals are involved in our elections that we know nothing about?


Colorado’s semi-open primary involves the two major parties in Colorado – the Democrats and the Republicans, but not the other 7 registered political parties (the political parties in Colorado that are recognized by the Secretary of State are the Colorado Democrat Party, Colorado Republican Party, American Constitution Party, Approval Voting Party, Colorado Center Party, Green Party of Colorado, Libertarian Party of Colorado, No Labels Colorado Party and the Unity Party of Colorado.) Prop 108, which became Colorado Revised Statute (CRS) 1-4-702 after Prop 108 passed, allows unaffiliated voters to vote in either the Republican primary or the Democrat primary. Registered voters in the other seven political parties cannot vote in the Republican or Democrat primary and must hold their own primary if they have more than one candidate for each office. The Democrat and Republican Parties are classified as Major Political Parties by the Colorado Secretary of State. The other seven parties are classified as Minor Political Parties. The semi-open primary has been in effect for the 2018, 2020 and 2022 elections. I think this also shows how unfair Prop 108 was.

Prior to 2016 Colorado had closed primaries, in which only registered party members could participate in a party's primary. However, unaffiliated voters could choose to affiliate with a party on Election Day in order to vote in that party's primary. In Colorado, primaries were convened to elect party candidates for county, state, and federal offices other than the presidency. Colorado’s presidential primary was reinstituted in 2016 when Proposition 107, a companion proposition to Prop 108, was passed. Proposition 107 passed by 28%, 64% to 36%. Proposition 107 re-established the Colorado presidential primary and allowed unaffiliated voters to vote in them. Prop 107 became CRS 1-4-1203. This statute states the presidential primary will be held at a date set by the Colorado Governor and held before the third Tuesday in March. This primary is conducted as a mail-in ballot election. This year the Colorado presidential primary election in 2024 was set by Governor Polis for Tuesday, March 5, 2024.


However, Proposition 108 also allowed political parties to change from nomination of general election candidates by primary to nomination by assembly or convention. This is the big issue that is going to be voted on at the September 30th SCC meeting in Castle Rock. CRS 1-4-702 requires 75% of the membership of the SCC to vote affirmatively to opt-out of the primary. That would mean 329 of the 448 state committee members would have to vote to implement the change. The 75% requirement applies to the entire membership, not just those who attend or send a proxy to the meeting. This is very uncommon. In parliamentary procedure a simple majority (51%) or for more significant issues a super majority of 2/3 or 66% is usually used. The proponents of Prop 108 used the 75% to make it very difficult to opt-out of the primary. The Colorado GOP has voted on opting-out for each of the three elections since it was passed and it has failed every time. The last time it was considered was at the September 18, 2021 SCC meeting in Pueblo. The results of that election were:


2021 State Central Committee (SCC) – Results of the September 18, 2021 Meeting


Numbers

​Percent

​Voting members of the State Central Committee

​507

​100%

​Votes required to Opt-out of the Open Primary.

380.33​

75%

​Members present or represented by proxy at the meeting.

441

84%

​Votes cast in the Opt-out vote.

​430

85%

​Votes cast in Favor of Opting-out of the Primary.

171.33

40%*

​Votes cast Against Opting-out of the Primary.

241.33

56%*

* Not sure why these two figures do not equal 100%, but these were the figures given at the meeting. Also note that there were 507 voting members of the SCC in 2021. The Republican Party lost SCC members because of a lower Republican-voter turnout in the 2022 election. State law CRS 1-3-103 states that two additional members shall be allowed the political party from each county that polled at least ten thousand votes at the last preceding general election for its candidate for governor or president of the United States. Many Republican voters did not vote in 2022. This is another example of how lower voter turnout hurts the political party.


At the recent August 5, 2023 special meeting of the SCC, Chairman Williams proposed an amendment to the state GOP Bylaws that would have made the vote of every non-attending delegate at the Fall meeting to be counted as an affirmative vote on the opt-out question. This was the proposed Amendment 7. I reported on this in my last blog - The August 5th State Central Committee Special Meeting that was posted on our website on August 13th. I reported that the measure failed 56% to 44%. Since this was a change in the party bylaws, it required a 2/3 or 66% vote to pass. So, the question of whether to opt-out of the 2024 Colorado semi-open primary will require 75% of the SCC membership to vote affirmatively for the opt-out at the September 30th meeting

So, what are the reasons to consider opting-out of the Primary?

1) The Republican Party is a private organization and its members should be allowed to select their candidates, just as every other political organization should be able to select their own candidates.

2) Unaffiliated Voters, who may not share the values and beliefs of Republican voters, are allowed to help select Republican and Democrat candidates, under the current Colorado semi - open Primary.

3) Democrats can change their affiliation and vote in Republican primaries to try to get a weaker candidate (And vice-versa.)

4) Republicans can nominate and vote for their candidate through the caucus/assembly process.

The long and the short of it is that a state-wide Republican candidate has not won a statewide election in 9 years. Is the semi-open primary the reason for that? It may not be possible to say that it is solely the reason, but it appears to be a major cause, if not the only reason.

But, again, numerous Republicans are arguing strongly against opting-out. Their reasons are:

1) Opting-out of the primary will eliminate the opportunity for over one million registered Republicans in the state to vote to select Republican Candidates in the 2024 election.

2) The caucus/assembly system will leave the decision on who the candidate will be to the 439 voting members of the State Central Committee.

3) The caucus/assembly system is vulnerable to backroom deals at the state assembly further disenfranchising Republican voters.

The long and short of the Don’t Opt-out argument is that the Republican Party will lose many Republican voters, as well as Unaffiliated voters, because they believe they have lost the right to help select Republican candidates. In addition, if candidates are selected by “party insiders” this may not reflect the wants and desires of grass-root Republican voters.

So, the members of the DCRCC who are voting members of the Colorado Republican State Central Committee (Myself – the Chairman, Vice-Chairwoman Leslie Parker and Secretary Brittany Deleff are faced with these two choices – 1) Opt-out of the Colorado semi-open primary and select our candidates by the caucus/assembly process or 2) Maintain the primary and allow all registered Republican voters and the Unaffiliated voters, who want to vote for a Republican candidate, select our candidates.

At the September 30th meeting we will also be deciding on the method of selecting our candidates, if the SCC votes to opt-out. There are two methods currently being considered:

  1. Use the Caucus/County Assembly/State Assembly-Convention to select the candidates. In other words, those Republicans that are elected at the Caucuses to attend the County Assembly and are then elected to attend the State Assembly/Convention and other District Assemblies will elect the candidates that will be on the ballot of the November 5, 2024 General Election. OR

  2. The Caucus/County Assembly/State Assembly-Convention will elect the candidates but if more than one candidate receives at least 30% of the votes, there will be a run-off election, that will be conducted by the State GOP. This will be done by mailing out ballots and/or sending out ballots by email.

Various other methods have been discussed since the August 5th SCC meeting. Some of these methods have included conducting the run-off election by bringing the names of the candidates receiving more than 30% of the votes at the State Assembly/Convention and District Assemblies back to the county and allowing all registered Republican voters to cast a vote for one of these candidates. The county party will hold these elections, possibly at the same locations that the caucuses were held. The work and costs of this run-off election will be borne by each individual county party. Our Executive Committee completely opposed this alternative and wrote to the State Party Chairman Dave Williams to tell him so. But you don’t know if this alternative or some variation could be re-introduced at the September 30th meeting.

We discussed the opt-out issue at the September 5, 2023 DCRCC monthly meeting. We took a straw poll on whether we should opt-out of the 2024 Colorado semi-open primary. Members of the DCRCC and visitors overwhelmingly voted that we should opt-out, depending on how the candidates for the 2024 General Election are selected. I told the committee that we’ll keep this vote in mind at the September 30th meeting. But depending on the discussions and the debate on the issue we may vote to not opt-out. I and the other members of the Executive Committee believe allowing unaffiliated voters to help select our candidates is totally wrong. Which is why we support the lawsuit that has been filed, challenging the constitutionality of Prop 108. Funding for this lawsuit has been set up by the Claremont Institute for Constitutional Jurisprudence. This organization is located in California. The lead attorney on this lawsuit is the Claremont founder, John Eastman. To donate online, go to The Claremont Institute's Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence . I and other members of our Executive Committee have donated to this fund. I believe this lawsuit is the only way we are going to get out of the Prop 108 mess.

If you have any questions or comments on this issue, let me know. I will be reporting on the outcome of the September 30th meeting at out next DCRCC monthly meeting on October 3rd and probably in another blog.

David Bradford

Chairman, Delta County Republican Central Committee


PS –Remember you can donate to the Delta County Republican Central Committee, by going to our website https://www.deltacoloradogop.com Since we won’t have the Headquarters open for most of this year, donations are critical in helping build up our bank account so we have funds for supporting our candidates in the 2024 election. An individual donation of $20 is a great small donation. You can also donate in person at our monthly meeting. Our next scheduled meeting is Tuesday October 3, 2023 at the Surface Creek Community Church in Austin. Hope to see you there! Thank you! db


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Guest
Sep 10, 2023

Great write up on the Opt Out issue Dave.

You can tell that you did a lot of research on the history of how this all came about. Particularly interesting to me is how we used to conduct our primaries prior to 2016. Also interesting to me, is how the minor parties are actually excluded in this primary process. I agree that we should support the law suit against Prop 108. I encourage all to donate what they can to help to the site highlighted above. I am.

"The long and the short of it is that a state-wide Republican candidate has not won a statewide election in 9 years. Is the semi-open primary the reason for that? It …

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Guest
Sep 11, 2023
Replying to

Shirley,

If the Opt-out passes, there won't be any petitioning on to the ballot. This is one of the reasons the State GOP likes the Opt-out. Dave Bradford

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