Critics blast plan to track unaffiliated voters casting ballots in Colorado’s party primaries

The process is being closely watched as it could affect how many unaffiliated voters participate in primaries

Brian Eason
The Denver Post

Unaffiliated voters who participate in Colorado’s new semi-open primaries could lose some of their political privacy under a proposal that’s expected to surface at the Colorado Statehouse this week. That has raised concerns that some independent voters could stay away from the party primaries.

Draft language, backed by Republican Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, would provide a mechanism for election officials to track the party primary participation of unaffiliated voters. If approved, it would allow Colorado’s political parties to obtain voter-specific data on who’s voting in each primary, much as they do with voters who register as a Republican or Democrat.

Supporters of such a move say it’s needed to ensure the integrity of the state’s elections. But county elections officials in Denver and Arapahoe counties dispute that line of reasoning, saying they don’t need to know that information to properly administer and audit an election.

“They’re trying to confuse this issue, frankly,” said Amber McReynolds, the director of elections in Denver. “What they (the parties) want to know, ultimately, is specific people in the primary they participated in, and that isn’t for canvas and auditing, it’s for campaign purposes.”

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