Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Colorado Voting, Non-Voters, and Why This Still Matters

As I warned you all in my introductory post, while this blog is going to be mostly baseball-centric, and mostly Rockies-baseball-centric, there are also gonna be posts like this, which are about literature, music, theater, or perhaps in this case, the political process. No, this is not going to be a post where I tell you how Mark Udall is the champion of light while Cory Gardner eats babies or that Bob Beauprez has Colorado soil in his veins while John Hickenlooper drinks the oil of the wealthy alongside a microbrew called "Frackin Framboise". Not going there at all. You vote for who you're going to vote for for the reasons you're going to vote for them. That is your right as a taxpaying American citizen. Or maybe you aren't going to vote at all, which is also your right as a taxpaying American citizen.

What I will encourage you to do is to set aside your cynicism, non-voters, and actually take a look at your ballot.

I've seen a couple of people already post the George Carlin clip about not voting, because "fuck 'em". I get that as well, the US House of Congress is super corrupt and all in the pockets of big greedy corporations and they don't have term limits and and and.

If you're not familiar with the clip, here it is:

Frankly, I find that approach completely lazy, and in part because I've held that viewpoint myself. Everything is corrupt, why try? Because I can legally smoke marijuana now, that's why. Not because of the pot itself, but something I voted on that didn't have much to do (at least at this point) with the hypercorrupt Washington fatcats and now it's directly affecting my life. That's how this stuff is supposed to look, but we've been blinded by the notion that Washington elections are the most important thing OR that Washington elections are just voting for the same douchebags over and over so why even bother.

Do I think if I vote for Udall or Gardner it's REALLY going to make a major difference in the USA's future? Of course I don't. I get what George is saying, but the non-voters citing corruption and fatalist outcomes and all that seem to be focusing on 3 particular races in this election, US Senate, US Representatives, and Colorado Governor/Lt. Governor. But are you aware that on this ballot there are also:

  • Colorado Attorney General
  • Colorado Secretary of State
  • Colorado Treasurer
There are also 6 incumbent Colorado Senators not running for reelection (4 Republican, 2 Democrat) and 17 Colorado Representatives not running for reelection (11 Republican, 6 Democrat). Combine that with the gubernatorial election, and we're looking at the current Democrat Trifecta (Governor and their party controlling both the House and Senate) being broken up. I won't delve into the potential ramifications here, but you can read a smidge about it here or here.

CaƱon City, Palisade, Palmer Lake, Paonia, and Ramah all have Recreational Marijuana Leagalization measures/referendums on the ballot, while Manitou Springs, Lakewood, Red Cliff, and amusingly enough, Palmer Lake all have Recreational Marijuana BANS on their ballots.

Loveland is voting on a 2-year Fracking Suspension.

There are, oh my god, so many retention elections for Judges on the ballot, and while that may seem daunting to see an entire column on the flip side of the ballot of only Judges (from both Appelate and Trial courts), these men and women are just so incredibly important. No, they're not glamorous or fun to vote for, as we don't get to rally around them like we do other elected officials and we don't really see smear campaigns against them and such, but they're important. Maybe you're like me and haven't gotten into the kind of trouble in life thus far that really requires you to appear before a judge. 

That being said, these are the people who make a lot of the decisions regarding the legality of issues we face in our day-to-day lives. The Colorado Blue Book that every registered voter should have received gives you a nice breakdown of each judge, their backgrounds and education, their surveyed approval ratings from attorneys and non-attorneys involved in the judicial system, feedback on their performance, and recommendations from the Legislative Council Staff. It's REALLY not that hard, and it's all written in language the legal layman can understand. I mean hell, I understood it.

Finally, if this hasn't persuaded you enough, there are 4 Statewide ballot initiatives that are looking to pass, some more controversial than the others. Let's very quickly run through all 4 of them in no order whatsoever with a VERY brief description of the initiative.

Proposition 104. Prop 104 requires open School Board meetings regarding collective bargaining negotiations. If you're a sports fan, CBA means a lot, and if you have kids in public schools, maybe this will pique your interest.

Proposition 105. Prop 105 requires labeling on food products that contain Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs. Super hot button. Or not. I don't know where you buy your groceries.

Amendment 68. This is the one about allowing casino gaming at horse tracks, but there's a LOT more going on than just some slots while you watch the ponies, mostly in terms of where the money is going. If you haven't voted yet, please PLEASE read into this one more than just the catchy headline of "MONEY FOR KIDS AND SCHOOL AND SHIT".

And finally, what I personally consider to be bar far and long the most important issue on this ballot:

Amendment 67. To put this as succinctly as possible, this is a Personhood Amendment that recognizes unborn children as persons in the Colorado Criminal Code and Colorado Wrongful Death Act. I won't say anything more about this because I don't want to have that conversation online, but this is a pretty important Amendment with a LOT of HEAVY ramifications in either outcome.

And if those weren't enough to get you at least a LITTLE interested, scroll down a bit on this page to see what DIDN'T make the ballot.

If this hasn't all changed your mind on at least voting on like 1 or 2 things (because you can always abstain from voting for the big jerk asshole politicians and their corruption and consumption of the souls of the innocent), at least have a look at the sample ballot. Just take a look and see what's going on. Maybe you'll see one thing, one judge, one measure that you find yourself having a strong opinion towards and you go fill out one little line on the ballot and call it good.

In conclusion, Voting is important. Uneducated voting is a problem for sure, but don't let the notion that everyone is awful and corrupt dissuade you from being a part of the voting populace that directly decides what takes place in your neck of the woods. Above, I encouraged the non-voter to at least LOOK at the ballot, but I'd like to add to that encouragement. If Washington politics have completely soured you to the democratic process and you can't see the point of voting for one puppet over another, then reframe this election: look at your ballot not so much as a citizen of the United States of America, but look at your ballot as a citizen of the State of Colorado. There is a lot going on in our awesome state, and a lot of this could affect how you live your day-to-day life.

1. I lifted everything informational in this post from Ballotpedia in an attempt to lay all the issues out clearly.
2. All the accusations of drinking blood and corruptly eating children up above are intended to be hyperbolic. Sure, I think some US Senators consume infants, but that's not really my rally cry.

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