Proposition 106, 107, 108 Have Potential to Reshape Colorado Politics - Open Primaries
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Posted by jesse shayne on November 07, 2016 at 10:36 AM

Proposition 106, 107, 108 Have Potential to Reshape Colorado Politics

This article was published by The Catalyst

One of the many issues on the ballot in the state of Colorado is Proposition 107 and 108 which pertain to the choosing of a presidential candidate. For decades, Colorado has chosen its Republican and Democratic candidates through a caucus system. Proposition 107 is giving Coloradans the option to switch to a state-run primary. Primary voting is done with ballots much like the voting system for the general election. A caucus, on the other hand, is more fluid. Representatives of the campaigns are at the caucus to educate voters about the candidates’ platforms. Caucus voting then occurs after the information sessions. Voters raise their hands and the votes are tallied or they split into groups based on their vote.

Proposition 108, which also affects 107, would open the primary to unaffiliated voters. This is important for independents as they make up about one-third of Colorado’s voting population. While switching to a primary will cost the state government more money, there are several reasons why this proposition landed on the ballot. In March, the Democratic caucuses were so overcrowded that many citizens were unable to vote due to the lack of infrastructure. The Republican party canceled their caucus. With a primary system, voting would be more efficient and less exclusive.

Both of these propositions are statutory, meaning they would be state law and will not be part of the state constitution.

John Wren, a member of the organization Save the Caucus, was interviewed by Westword magazine. He explained his opposition to the proposition, citing that introducing primaries would make caucuses obsolete.

“I think the caucus is the best way, especially for people new to Colorado and the Colorado political process, to make a real difference in determining who their representatives are. And also who the party leaders are,” said Wren.

Wren acknowledged that recent caucuses have not been up to par but he believes in their importance when functioning correctly.

“The caucus, when it’s healthy, puts the rank-and-file in charge of the party leaders. And the party leaders right now, today, don’t want that so much. I think that’s the root of the problem,” said Wren.

On the other hand, Governor John Hickenlooper supports the propositions on the basis that more voters will be able to participate.

“We are marginalizing those who don’t want to go through the caucus system. I think a true primary will get more people involved in a higher degree in our primary processes,” said Hickenlooper.

Tom Cronin, a political science professor at CC, is in favor of both 107 and 108 to varying degrees.

“I’m in favor of primaries versus caucuses. I think that’s a step forward for Colorado. I love caucuses, but they disenfranchise too many people who can’t show up for two or three hours at the local high school,” said Cronin. “Primaries allow more people to participate. It’s more democratic.”

Cronin believes that it is not fair to have a system that excludes people who are not able to dedicate the time it takes to participate in a caucus as well as people overseas in the military. Cronin does have one reservation about Proposition 107. The current proposition is winner-takes-all, meaning the candidate that wins the majority of primaries in Colorado would win all of the state delegates. Cronin believes that this number should be proportional.

“Four years ago, senator [Rick Santorum] won the caucuses in Colorado. Mitt Romney won some too, but because Santorum won the plurality of caucuses he would have gotten all of the delegates for Colorado,” said Cronin.

Cronin also believes that Proposition 108 should pass due to the large independent voter population in the state of Colorado.

“I’m in favor of including independents. They are disenfranchised from being involved in politics at that stage unless we let them in,” said Cronin.

Cronin acknowledges that letting unaffiliated voters have a say may weaken the parties but he believes these independent voters may help bring ultra-left and ultra-right ideologies come closer to the center.

Among students at CC who feel strongly about Propositions 107 and 108 is first-year Eric Ohlund, a likely political science major.

“[Regarding Proposition 107] I voted yes. I think that the caucus system is advantageous to people who have more extreme views because they’re willing to give more time to express them,” said Ohlund. “I think everyone should be allowed to vote and I think the primary system encourages that.”

As much as Ohlund likes the idea of Proposition 108 the fine print kept him from voting yes.

“It had an addendum to it that meant that two percent of each of the voting districts had to vote for an amendment or an initiative to get it passed and I just thought that it would be really hard to get a consensus that large,” said Ohlund. “It would just slow the process of democracy down.”

Benedict Wright, CC first-year and Colorado native, is all in for both of these propositions. Wright believes that with a primary system and allowing independents to vote will lead to better representation.

“I think it would be good if everyone could be involved in the primary voting process. I would’ve liked to participate in the primaries this year but I could not because I’m not affiliated with a party,” said Wright. “I think it would be a better reflection of how the state feels as a whole.”

Another initiated state stature to vote on this election is the Colorado “End of Life Options Act,” also known as Proposition 106. The proposition is modeled on Oregon Measure 16, the 1994 measure that authorized assisted death. Oregon was the first state to legalize assisted death, followed by California, Montana, Vermont, and Washington.

Currently in Colorado, aiding another person in ending their life is a crime and is felony manslaughter. This election season, Colorado has the choice to either keep the system in place or permit assisted death.

The proposition is designed to allow patients who are terminally ill and have less than six months to live (determined by two physicians) to voluntarily die through self-administered drugs. Being eligible for this procedure requires the patient must be 18 years of age, pronounced mentally sound by two physicians, and able to communicate an educated decision. Receiving the drugs requires one written request (witnessed by two others) and two oral requests. Additionally, the proposition would criminalize anyone who coerced a patient into requesting the drug.

A “yes” vote on Proposition 106 supports making assisted death legal among patients with a terminal illness who receive a prognosis of death within six months. Supporters of this proposition include the ACLU of Colorado, The Colorado Community Health Network, and ProgressNow Colorado. Supporters in the government include Gov. John Hickenlooper, Sen. Lucia Guzman, and Rep. Lois Court.

Rep. Lois Court and former Sen. Greg Brophy argued, “The Colorado End-of-Life Options Act will take government out of medical decisions best left to patients, their doctors, their families, and their faith. We believe there is no role for government—or anyone else—in the very personal and difficult decisions made at the end of a person’s life.” CMU, Rocky Mountain PBS, and Franklin & Marshal College surveyed 540 registered voters in Sept. 2016 on Proposition 106 and found that 70 percent of respondents favored and 22 percent opposed the measure.

A “no” vote on Proposition 106 opposes the proposal and maintains the prohibition of assisted death in Colorado. Supporters of this proposition include Coloradans Against Assisted Suicide, Focus on the Family, and Colorado Christian University. Supporters of the “no” vote include Gov. John Ricketts of Nebraska, Sen. Larry Crowder, and former Rep. Bob Beauprez.

Carrie Ann Lucas, Executive Director of Disabled Parents Rights, criticizes the measure reasoning, “In a profit-driven health care system, people will die needlessly when insurance companies refuse to pay for necessary medications and equipment, and instead offer to pay for a much cheaper lethal prescription… We know that suicide is cheaper than treatment.”

An editorial from The Denver Post agrees with Lucas, worrying that “Proposition 106 would entice insurers to drop expensive treatments for terminal patients even when medical advances might add months or years more to a life that a patient may wish to take.”

The CC campus seems to be leaning towards “yes” on Proposition 106. Sophomore Konrad Lyle said, “It seems fair. Everyone should have the right to make that choice.” Although the most recent polls in Colorado at large show a greater number of people in support of the proposition, the race is still close. The average percent “yes” to percent “no” in other states that have passed similar assisted death initiatives is 52 percent to 47.

Proposition 106, 107, and 108 have great potential to change Colorado, for better or for worse. These propositions are close in the polls, so every vote counts on these significant issues.

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