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An election worker sets up a voting booth in the library of Spring Hill Elementary School, which is being used as a polling station in McLean, Virginia Nov. 5, 2013. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque) An election worker sets up a voting booth in the library of Spring Hill Elementary School, which is being used as a polling station in McLean, Virginia Nov. 5, 2013. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)  

Activists seek to overhaul Colorado’s election system

At the end of a year marked by myriad headaches over how its elections are conducted, Colorado voters may end up considering sweeping changes to how they cast a vote in the future.

At least two grassroots efforts are underway to overhaul the state’s election system, according to the Denver Post. One, which is being spearheaded by what the paper calls a “politically disillusioned private eye” who hasn’t been registered to vote for years, would do away with partisan primary elections.

“The Initiative’s premise is that the hyper-partisanship currently ruining our chances of making real progress on a wide range of public policy challenges isn’t an accident,” wrote Ryan Ross in an online invitation to join the discussion. “It’s a product of an election system that gives power to rigid ideologues way out of proportion to their numbers. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can change the election system.”

His proposal would ask voters in 2014 to approve a “two-stage election system in which every registered voter can vote in each stage for any candidate on the ballot in their voting district.”

That would mean voters of any affiliation could vote in the Republican or Democratic primaries, which could lead to a scenario in which the top vote-getters who move on to the general election may be from the same party, according to the Post.

“Hate, hate, hate the idea,” Colorado Republican Party chairman Ryan Call told the paper. “If you want a say in who our party chooses as a candidate, you need to join us in order to have your voice heard.”

Denver businessman and registered unaffiliated voter Kent Thiry is also working on a proposal, the Post reported, but is more tight-lipped about the details, saying only, “I am currently talking about different forms of election reform with a lot of Colorado leaders across the entire political spectrum.”

Thiry and Ross have “exchanged emails,” but are not working together. But the paper noted that Thiry advocated for open primaries in an earlier Denver Post op-ed.

Ross told the Post that, if adopted, his initiative “would do more to revitalize democracy than any election system adopted in any state in the country in the past century.”

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