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Editorial: Colorado politics as usual

Posted by jesse shayne on September 06, 2016 at 12:20 PM

This editorial was written by Dave Krieger and represents the views of the Colorado Daily Camera editorial board

Colorado lawmakers from both parties "made substantial edits" last week to descriptions in the state's official voter guide of two ballot measures to create open political primaries, according to the Denver Post.

Those edits replaced language crafted by nonpartisan staff in consultation with proponents and opponents of the measures — the usual method —with language backed by members of the two major political parties that turned the description negative.

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POINT: Open primaries are most inclusive

Posted by jesse shayne on September 01, 2016 at 12:17 PM

This article was written by Halley Schlemmer for The Daily Nebraskan

Inclusion and fairness are essential to a vibrant democracy. Proper governance and representation is impossible when institutions exclude specific groups of people and stifle particular ideas. Today in Nebraska thousands of independent voters are denied full access to the political process. As many of you are surely aware, Nebraska elections are conducted in two stages: the primary and the general. I want to talk to you about primaries, specifically open primaries in statewide elections. A top two open primary ensures inclusion and fairness, and should be utilized at all levels of state governance.

Traditionally, an open primary allows a voter to choose which partisan primary he or she wants to participate in. This is different than a top-two open primary. Similar to California’s top two open primary, every registered voter would receive the same ballot, with the same list of candidates.

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YOURS: Amendment V gives everyone a vote

Posted by jesse shayne on August 27, 2016 at 11:06 AM

This article was written by Stanford Adelstein for the Rapid City Journal

Today, I am announcing my endorsement of Amendment V — nonpartisan elections — on the Nov. 8 ballot. My reasons are simple and grounded in the basic fundamental freedoms we hold dear: that every voter, including 115,000 independents in South Dakota, should be able to cast a meaningful vote for their elected officials; and that those elected officials be public servants, not party servants. How I arrived at my support for Amendment V, however, may surprise you.

When the draft Amendment V was first presented, my preference was an initiated state statute rather than a constitutional amendment.

There was no doubt that something had to be done. We could not continue having 115,000 independents have no say in the choice of final candidates to govern our state. Eighty percent of our elections are effectively decided in the primary. Because of closed primaries in the dominant party, only a small percentage of voters were deciding who would run for the Legislature.

That meant that many excellent candidates would not run at all, knowing there was no chance for election unless they were part of the small “club” active in the majority party. An even smaller percentage of voters make decisions on who would be the candidate for constitutional offices at party conventions.

But, what to do.

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New initiatives would create presidential primary, open primaries to unaffiliated voters

Posted by jesse shayne on August 24, 2016 at 3:43 PM

This article was written by Joey Bunch for the Denver Post

Colorado voters will decide in November whether to change how political parties in the state select their nominees.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said Wednesday that two questions around a primary election system qualified for the ballot by having at least 98,942 valid signatures from registered voters (or 5 percent of the total votes in the last election for secretary of state).

Colorado currently uses a caucus system, run by the parties, to select nominees for the general election.

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My Voice: Nonpartisan elections: It’s time for change

Posted by jesse shayne on August 23, 2016 at 10:54 AM

This article was written by Joe Kirby for the Argus Leader

Americans are fed up with partisan politics at both the national and state level. It’s time to put the voters back in charge and send a message to Pierre and Washington by passing Amendment V - Nonpartisan Elections.

Two decades ago, I joined with other community leaders to fix the problems with Sioux Falls city government. We crafted a much better way for city government to operate and then took it to voters for approval. Our principal opposition was public officials and others who sought to protect the status quo. Voters saw through that self-interest and approved the change. The rest is history; our city is thriving and has never regretted the change to better government. Now our state has a similar opportunity.

Amendment V, on the ballot this November, would bring a nonpartisan election system to the state. Similar systems work well elsewhere – particularly in Nebraska, which has used this system for nearly 80 years to elect their legislature. I am genuinely excited, because I think it could fix a number of problems, both in our state and nationally.

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Can the States Save American Democracy?

Posted by jesse shayne on August 22, 2016 at 1:12 PM

This article was written by Hendrick Smith for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — In this tumultuous election year, little attention has focused on the groundswell of support for political reform across grass-roots America. Beyond Bernie Sanders’s call for a political revolution, a broad array of state-level citizen movements are pressing for reforms against Citizens United, gerrymandering and campaign megadonors to give average voters more voice, make elections more competitive, and ease gridlock in Congress.

This populist backlash is in reaction to two monumental developments in 2010: the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling authorizing unlimited corporate campaign donations, and a Republican strategy to rig congressional districts. Together, they have changed the dynamics of American politics.

That January, Justice John Paul Stevens warned in his dissent that Citizens United would “unleash the floodgates” of corporate money into political campaigns, and so it has. The overall funding flood this year is expected to surpass the record of $7 billion spent in 2012.

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“America Deserves Better”: Newspaper Takes on Citizens United, Debate Inclusion

Posted by jesse shayne on August 19, 2016 at 1:50 PM

This article was written by Jeff Powers for the Independent Voter Network

The Editorial Board at the San Diego Union Tribune has taken to task the Clinton Foundation and by proxy, the special interests that have dominated our current political landscape.

The editorial focuses on the 2010 Citizens United decision, where a “bitterly divided Supreme Court ruled that corporations have political speech rights and shouldn’t have limits on their independent political expenditures.”

A recent article on IVN delves into this topic in-depth, looking at the impact special interest money has had on the election process and where the presidential candidates stand on Citizens United. Yet, while the issue of private money in politics is a concern for many voters, there is also the issue of how the Republican and Democratic parties are using public tax dollars to maintain control of elections.

Another article posted on IVN shows that the costs for the 2016 primaries nationwide totaled nearly half a billion dollars, more than half of which was spent on closed primary elections which, by law, exclude the very taxpayers that fund them.

The author of the Open Primaries report, Jeremy Gruber, will be on the IVN podcast next week to discuss the dominance of the two major parties. Over 26.3 million voters were locked out of closed primary elections nationwide — elections that serve the private purpose of selecting party candidates — because they were not registered to vote with the Republican or Democratic Party. Yet, closed primaries alone cost taxpayers an estimated $287 million.

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In South Dakota, Voters Get Rare Chance to Transform Politics

Posted by jesse shayne on August 18, 2016 at 3:39 PM

This article was written by Daniel C. Vock for Governing Magazine

Change tends to happen gradually in state government. But South Dakota could see rapid -- and sweeping -- change to its electoral laws next year. That is, if voters there approve a raft of ballot measures in November.

Any one of the changes would be significant; collectively, they would be a game-changer for not just South Dakota but election advocates in other states. The crowded ballot includes three proposals that would change basic elements of elections in South Dakota: the role of political parties, the process for drawing new legislative districts and candidates’ options for funding their campaigns.

Each of the measures would also significantly loosen the tight grip the Republican Party has on elected offices in the state, which has made it difficult for Democrats to achieve much on their agenda, including election reform.

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