Editorial: High stakes, big changes on tap for June 26 primary | CraigDailyPress.com

Editorial: High stakes, big changes on tap for June 26 primary

Editorial BoardRenee Campbell, publisherJim Patterson, editorSasha Nelson, reporterBrian MacKenzie, community representativeShannon Moore, community representativeContact the Editorial Board at editor@CraigDailyPress.com.

Thanks to 2016’s passage of Proposition 108, Colorado’s unaffiliated voters will — for the first time — be allowed to cast ballots in the June 26 primary election.

Before passage of the proposition, Colorado utilized a closed primary system, meaning voters who chose not to affiliate with a political party — the state’s largest voting block and Moffat County’s second largest — were barred from casting primary ballots.

People choose not to affiliate with a political party for a number of reasons, but regardless of the motivation, this heretofore under-represented voting block seems to be growing. According to an article published by thirdway.com prior to the 2016 presidential election, independent voter enrollment in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Pennsylvania jumped more than 34 percent between June 2008 and June 2016, while new enrollments in both major political parties barely budged.

These numbers suggest that passage of Proposition 108 stands to significantly improve primary participation in Colorado, and we hope Moffat County’s unaffiliated voters will take advantage of this change.

Of course, the change will necessitate inception of a modified primary protocol, and voters should be familiar with what those modifications mean. In June’s Clerk’s Corner column — published in the Wednesday, May 30 edition of the Craig Press — Moffat County Clerk and Recorder Lila Herod offered a detailed explanation of what’s new for the June 26 primary.

Most significantly, everyone should be aware that voters who have not declared a party preference will receive two ballots in the mail — Democratic and Republican — but may complete only one. This means voters must choose which ballot to vote and may not split their votes between the two. If a voter returns two ballots, neither will count.

And it’s vital those votes count, particularly here in Moffat County, where most, if not all, local races will be determined by the primary.

The stakes surrounding these local races are high.

Ongoing declines in the energy sector will continue to cut into county revenue, and this will present difficult choices through the next several years. It is imperative we elect leaders who recognize the challenges we face and bring workable ideas for how to face those challenges in a way that is both fiscally responsible and protective of our irreplaceable local amenities.

To that end, the Craig Press — in cooperation with the Craig Association of Realtors — will host a candidate forum from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, June 4, at the Moffat County High School auditorium, and we hope everyone is planning to attend. Even if you’ve already decided which candidates will receive your vote, the forum will still offer an opportunity to learn more about those candidates’ positions in their own words.

This forum is yours, as much as ours, so we have been accepting question submissions from the public and will continue to do so through Monday. So, if you have questions for the candidates, please email them to Craig Press Editor Jim Patterson at jpatterson@CraigDailyPress.com, bring them by the Craig Press offices at 466 Yampa Ave. or call 970-875-1790.

This is an important primary, one made even more significant by its inclusion of unaffiliated voters and the fact that it will largely determine who our local leaders will be for the next four years.

It is our sincere hope that all Moffat County residents will make their voices heard on June 26. In our opinion, there is never a good reason to skip voting, and this year, it’s easier and more inclusive than ever.

The June 26 primary election is our chance to set the course of our community for the next four years and, perhaps, beyond.

Please, don’t let that chance pass you by.