WASHINGTON -- During the 2004 elections, the Republican Party was able to use specific ballot initiatives to drive up the vote in key locals and, in turn, secure GOP majorities in select races. It's a straightforward practice that both parties have used. But the GOP perfected it during that cycle, primarily by ginning up opposition to same-sex marriage.
Flash forward six years and there has been relatively little activity on the ballot initiative front, at least in terms of movements that Democrats could utilize to amplify their vote. Instead, voters are being presented with proposals like Initiated Ordinance 300 in Denver, Colorado.
"Shall the voters for the City and County of Denver adopt an Initiated Ordinance to require the creation of an extraterrestrial affairs commission to help ensure the health, safety, and cultural awareness of Denver residents and visitors in relation to potential encounters or interactions with extraterrestrial intelligent beings or their vehicles, and fund such commission from grants, gifts and donations?"
It's hard to imagine people going to the polls to ensure that an extraterrestrial commission is put in place. Even then, it's unclear what, exactly, the partisan leanings are of the true believers in alien life forms. And yet, when people go to the polls today, will they be motivated to vote against a initiative -- derided, by some, as the "dumbest ordinance ever" -- that has no discernible impact on their lives should it come to pass?
Denver, in the end, could end up with former Rep. Tom Tancredo as governor and an extraterrestrial commission to boot.
Colorado isn't the only place where weird issues are being thrust before voters. In Washington, poll-goers are being asked to express their opinions on a measure that would require the state seal to depict a tapeworm attached to a taxpayer's intestine, encircled by the words: "Committed to sucking the life blood out of each and every taxpayer."
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