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Aaron Harber Headshot

Ballot Bedlam

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With ballots already mailed to voters and everyone now able to vote in person if desired, the
Colorado General Election has begun. One aspect which may surprise voters is the lengthy
wording of some ballot issues when combined with a protracted list of candidates. In one county, voters face 38 decisions. Did Starbucks design this ballot knowing some voters will need a shot of caffeine just to finish voting?

One local ballot proposal's alleged "summary," on its own, covers 65 lines on the ballot. That's
not a summary --- that's a school paper. Just trying to follow it could result in thousands of cases of eye-strain (not counting the neurological damage from head-spinning). The summary is akin to a treatise --- and, in the end, may turn off enough voters to defeat the measure.

At the other extreme, proposed Constitutional Amendment R asks voters if they want to
approve "an exemption from property taxation for a possessory interest." This will leave many
voters scratching their heads wondering "What the heck is a possessory interest?" or "Is this
related to possums?" (It can be if the possums are valued under $6,000.)

Even worse, statutory Proposition 102 goes back to deploying the strategy of confusing voters
by asking for approval of release of a limited category of suspects without a cash bond. What it
does not say is passage of the proposal means everyone else currently eligible for a non-cash
bond, now will have to post a cash bond.

Hence, instead of simply asking, "Should everyone -- except for a limited category -- be required to post a bond?" the ballot hides the categories which it actually impacts. Lamentably, the wording fails to inform voters of the actual meaning or intent of the proposal. Very tricky, indeed!

Where were our State officials when we needed them? Colorado's Ballot Title Setting Board
(the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Director of the Office of Legislative Legal
Services) fell asleep at the switch on a number of this year's ballot issues and now we all will
suffer.

This year going through the ballot also will take much longer for some citizens not only due
to the combination of the length of the ballot and known candidates but because its nature is
anesthetizing nature. It also doesn't help that there are 10 or more judge retention questions
asked on some ballots. So, if a large number electors wait until November 2nd to vote, there
could be long lines unless polling place start pouring coffee.

So the word to the wise is (1) study the ballot in great detail before you vote, (2) make your
decisions before you go to your polling location, (3) drink plenty of coffee before you go, and (4) be patient and cheerful if there is a long wait to cast ballots. Those who were smart -- and are voting by mail -- don't give up halfway through the process if you happen to fall asleep. Finish marking that ballot, slap 61 cents worth of postage on the envelope, and mail in that ballot today! You'll be glad you did so you don't find it in a pile while writing your holiday greetings during Thanksgiving.

If you need to learn more about the candidates and issues (a) read the informational book
sent to you by the State, (b) watch interviews and debates with all the candidates and ballot
representatives available at no charge 24/7 as a public service at www.Colorado2010.com, and
(c) ignore every political advertisement you see on television or hear on the radio.

Good luck!