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Republicans sue Griswold to stop unaffiliated voters from participating in primaries

The group of state Republican lawmakers and candidates filed the lawsuit last week asking a judge to stop the secretary of state from enforcing Prop 108.

DENVER — A group of Colorado Republicans filed a federal lawsuit Feb. 24 asking a judge to block Secretary of State Jena Griswold from enforcing Proposition 108, which allows unaffiliated voters to participate in primary elections.

The five state Republican lawmakers and candidates said that Prop 108, which was passed by state voters in 2016, violates their First and 14th Amendment rights by allowing voters not affiliated with the party to vote the GOP primary.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for Colorado, was brought by attorney John Eastman, who was stripped of his public duties as a University of Colorado Boulder visiting scholar after he spoke during a rally outside the White House before the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

RELATED: Professor stripped of public duties at CU after speaking at Trump rally that preceded Capitol attack

The plaintiffs were listed as state Rep. Ron Hanks, of Fremont County; Laurel Imer, of Jefferson County, who's running for the U.S. House District 7 seat; Dave Peters, chair of the La Plata County Republican Committee; Charles Stockham, of Arapahoe County,  a U.S. House candidate in 2020, and Joann Windholz, chair of the Adams County Republican Committee.

All five voted at a state party meeting in September in favor of filing the lawsuit. At that same meeting, Republicans rejected a bit to call off this year's primary, set for June 28, rather than let unaffiliated voters have a say in the party's nominations.

RELATED: Colorado GOP nixes canceling 2022 primary but approves lawsuit to challenge system

The lawsuit claims that the plaintiff's rights of free speech include the right to choose their political party's nominees "without interference by those who are not members of the party and have chosen not to affiliate with the party."

"Unaffiliated voters have been encouraged to vote in Republican primaries to defeat candidates preferred by Republican Party voters," the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit also claims that Prop 108 violates their right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment by "diluting the votes" of affiliated Republican voters.

The plaintiffs asked the court for an injunction to stop Griswold and others from enforcing Proposition 108 and to declare the measure unconstitutional.

Proposition 108 allows unaffiliated voters to vote in the primary election of a major political party. Voters are mailed the primary ballots for Republicans and Democrats, then can choose to fill out and return one of them.

The 2016 statewide ballot measure passed with 53.26% of the vote, according to the Secretary of State's Office.

As of Feb. 1, about 44% of active Colorado voters were unaffiliated, followed by about 28% Democrat and about 25% Republican. Smaller party affiliation makes up the rest.

RELATED: Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters announces run for secretary of state

RELATED: Colorado adopting new election security rules in wake of data breaches

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