In June, we writers of the DPL Research Blog reached out to Primaries polling procrastinators. In August, we reached out to early elections enthusiasts. In September, Civics on the Go gave go-getters this great guide. And now, it is October. The Midterm Election is on Tuesday, November 6, only 22 days away.
I don't know about you, but I'm usually pretty guilty of procrastinating on these things. However, after hitting Critical Research Overload during the Primary in June, I decided to leave scrambling to eggs and/or tofu. Earlier this week I pulled a hefty book with a blue cover out of my mailbox and whispered to myself in the dying light, "The time to hesitate is through."
Are you registered to vote yet? Do you remember? Did you move? (I did, and I switched counties so I had to change my registration.) Is it more complicated for you than the things I just said? Don't worry! Colorado is one of the few states where you can register to vote until Election Day (although after October 29 you will not be able to get a mail ballot). The Secretary of State's Office (where voter registrations live) has an FAQ to get you started.
Mail ballots go out beginning Monday, October 15. If you're in Denver County, make sure to check out the Denver Elections Division page for more information about where to vote in Denver, track your ballot, etc. If you do not live in Denver County, check your local county's elections department for more information about your local election.
My Big Fat Blue Booklet
Every election year, every mailbox should get a free copy of what is known colloquially as "the Blue Booklet." The Blue Booklet comes from the Legislative Council Staff at the Colorado General Assembly (a.k.a., The State House). The Blue Booklet breaks down ballot measures by offering the full text, a summary and analysis for those of us who don't have a JD, and arguments for and against each measure. The print version includes judicial evaluations as well.
According to 9News, it looks as though not everyone received their copy. You can download a digital copy for free (English and Spanish!). Please note that the portion about judicial performance is available online not from the General Assembly, but from the Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation, which also makes the information available online. For those who prefer an audio format, the Colorado Talking Book Library has a recorded version that can be accessed online. (For those who use the physical cartridge, please call CTBL at 303-727-9277.)
The League of Women Voters also publishes their own pro/con pamphlet, which can be downloaded for free on their Elections page in English, Spanish, and is forthcoming in audio.
I've Got the Media Outlet Paywall Blues
It's rare to find national coverage that really sinks its teeth into what's happening in Colorado, so you'll have to seek out your trusted local media sources. What are those? I can't speak for you, but I can point out a few that you might want to check out.
The Denver Post has a paywall to online content that can prevent non-subscribers from accessing its political coverage. Those who are not able to subscribe can visit our Newspapers topic, which allows you coverage from all over the country without asking you to get out your wallet. In particular, America's Newspapers gives you access to more than 100 Colorado publications. There is a three-day delay of coverage, but there's plenty to catch up on for now.
There is other local media as well. 9News has published a good, starter Voter's Guide that has information about each ballot measure. For something more in-depth, check out this Voter Guide from the Colorado Independent and the League of Women Voters. This guide at least addresses every race in the state, but not all candidates have submitted information. For example, lots of the candidates vying for seats at the Colorado Capitol or for positions like the RTD board have no information adressing where they stand on the issues. In those cases, you may have to turn to search engines to see what they've said about themselves or if they've been covered elsewhere.
Colorado Public Radio's election coverage is available for free. CPR also launched a podcast called Purplish dedicated to Colorado politics—not just the current state, but the history that created the current climate. Those who have moved here from other states may not be hip to things like how Colorado's initiative process gave more power to citizens to get laws on the ballot, reject measures, and recall politicians. Is that a revelation to you? Well, that's the topic of the first episode. And for those who really want to get into the stuff about taxes and the state budget, there's a whole other podcast on just on TABOR.
I Want to Be Where the People Are
So we've got the scoop on the ballot issues and some general sources that address the whole election. But there are a lot of people who will appear on your ballot as well. The most publicized race right now is between Jared Polis and Walker Stapleton, to take over from Governor John Hickenlooper.
The Denver Post has created a list of the six gubernatorial debates happening around the state in October. This list is pulled directly from the original article, and I have amended those that have already passed to note where you can watch recordings:
- Oct. 5, 6 p.m. Hosted by CBS4, KOA, CPT12 and the Colorado Sun. Recorded coverage can be found on KKTV's website.
- Oct. 6, 7 p.m. Hosted by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Colorado Mesa University and RMPBS. Recorded coverage can be found on CSPAN's website.
- Oct. 8, 7 p.m. Hosted by The Pueblo Chieftain, at the Occhiato Center at CSU-Pueblo. This debate was not televised.
- Oct. 13, 7 p.m. Hosted by The Gazette and KOAA at the The Garden Pavilion at Penrose House. Coverage available on YouTube.
- Oct. 17, 7 p.m. Hosted by 9News and the Fort Collins Coloradoan. You can watch live on line.
- Oct. 23, 6 p.m. Hosted by The Denver Post and ABC 7, 6 p.m., at the Cable Center at the University of Denver. You can watch live online.
Governors loom large and are covered in a lot of outlets, but they're not the only people running for office. You can wait to look on your ballot or back at that Voter Guide I mentioned earlier to see which seats are currently in a race.
If you have an incumbent politician running, you can find them in the Colorado General Assembly directory to see what legislation they've participated in creating. You will have to search for any personal websites on your own for both incumbents and challengers. Just remember: everyone is going to make themselves look good on their own website, so it's important to think critically about their claims and search across other media. I'm a big fan of video or audio interviews because I think they tell me a lot about a person.
I've Seen So Many Ads I Don't Even Know What is True on This Earth Anymore
I feel you, my friend. There's a lot of information to know and most of it is covered up with a lot of varnish. Unfortunately, well-known sites like Politifact and Vote Smart did not have the level of information I wanted for local candidates, especially in cases where challengers do not have political experience. Here's a couple things to help:
- Shaun Boyd of CBS4 has a dedicated segment to testing the claims of particular political ads called "Reality Check." I started with this segment, which talks about the difference between ads funded by PACs and those funded by candidates.
- The Park Hill Branch has partnered with the Bell Policy Center to present program called "Understand Your Ballot" on October 23.
- The only session of Denver Public Library's How to Spot Fake News class between now and the election is coming up on October 29 at the Ross-Broadway Branch Library.
Sometimes, the onus is on us readers to put on our analysis hats as we read. For example, checking into a local challenger for a House of Representatives seat, I found a website full of opinionated language, buzzwords clearly aimed at a specific set of values, and personal attacks on the opponent, but short on specific strategies. When I did a wider web search, I found the same thing carried over across local media outlets: the candidate stuck to personal attacks and vague promises. Is that what I want in a candidate? Would I feel comfortable casting a vote for this person?
It can be hard and overwhelming to vote. Part of why I don't want to procrastinate this time is to digest the information out there about the issues so I can cast my ballot with confidence. I hope everyone else that wants to do the same will be able to.
The image of students at Morey Junior High voting in a school election in 1940 is a part of our Western History and Genealogy's Digital Collections. More information about this image can be found at this link.