Election Time in the Rockies
There’s snow up in the high country, so it must be election time in Colorado. It’s an odd-year election, but there’s always something interesting on the ballot here. Voting has become very convenient in Colorado as well, although there’s no solid evidence that even the combination of interesting and convenient has done a lot to increase turnout. Anyway…
First there’s the race for mayor and part of the city council rotation. Local campaigns in my Denver suburb are actually pretty boring this year. The development questions are all about what will happen around the three light rail stations that will open next year. One looks to be a light industry hub; one higher-end apartments/condos, a hotel, restaurants and other retail; one has the local community college’s health care program and whatever builds on that.
The school district board election is more interesting. Two seats are up in the regular rotation. Colorado is a recall state, and for the other three seats, there’s a recall issue. I’ve written about this before, and maintain my previous position: course content is within the proper purview of the board under the Colorado constitution, but people who are dumb enough to take on the suburban AP history students and their parents over a college-prep course are probably too dumb to be on the board.
Colorado’s also a referendum state, and under the state constitution, there’s the notion of “excess” revenue that must be refunded unless there’s a vote of the people to allow the state to keep it. Newly legal recreational marijuana sales are taxed heavily. Sales have been good, generating excess revenue. The state legislature has referred a ballot item to the people  asking to keep that excess revenue to spend for specific purposes. In this case the money is fungible — not always true in state and local budgets — and the excess would simply free up some General Fund dollars that can be spent on anything. Still, tossing in some “it’s for the children” spending items doesn’t hurt.
Colorado’s an initiative state as well. There’s a local initiative on the ballot. During the last recession, the county commissioners broke long-standing promises and diverted some of the tax money that has always been earmarked for the library system for other uses. The initiative asks for a small property tax increase whose revenue would be dedicated to the libraries and immune from commission action in the future. I admit to being biased — I use library resources extensively, particularly the inter-library loan system, which provides me with access to the stacks at at least seven research universities and some smaller specialty schools.
Finally, Colorado is an almost-exclusively vote-by-mail state. Every registered voter gets a paper ballot in the mail . Ours arrived last week. My wife and I sat at the kitchen table after supper one evening, debating the issues and marking the ballots. Checking the county clerk’s web site, I can tell that my ballot has been received and processed. Vote-by-mail is enormously popular here. Asked the question “Should Colorado keep its vote-by-mail system?” more than 75% of both Republicans and Democrats say yes . No one locally believes that there’s fraud going on (although I regularly read East Coast pundits who claim it must be there and we’re just too dumb to find it).
What’s on your ballot, and how convenient will it be for you to vote?
 Control of the legislature is split, with the Democrats holding a 34-31 advantage in the House and the Republicans 18-17 in the Senate. Both chambers approved the ballot item.
 You can go to one of the (not many) voting centers in the state and cast your ballot in person if you like. There’s same-day registration, which also requires you to go to one of the voting centers.
 There’s nothing else that both sides agree on to that extent. Except possibly that Texans shouldn’t be allowed into the state. People are still upset about the Texan who bought property up in one of the high valleys and then shot some of his neighbor’s buffalo.