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Pushing Coloradans to Vote from the Bottom Up

In 2012, an average of 7 percent of Colorado voters did not complete their ballots. (Dsw4/Wikimedia Commons).
In 2012, an average of 7 percent of Colorado voters did not complete their ballots. (Dsw4/Wikimedia Commons).
July 19, 2016

DENVER - Voters in Colorado are regularly faced with seemingly endless ballots, starting with candidates at the top followed by numerous initiatives. At least 39 measures filed for spots on the 2016 ballot on issues ranging from establishing single-payer health care, penalizing groups doing business with Iran, and amending the state's Bingo and Raffles Law.

Carol Hedges, executive director of the Colorado Fiscal Institute said when people don't mark up the entire ballot, they're leaving the job for others to finish.

"Sometimes up to ten percent of the folks who start at the top of the ballot don't make it through and complete the ballot and vote on the issues and initiatives at the bottom," she said. "And what Count Me In is really about is to encourage people to understand the importance of their role in shaping their communities."

Count Me In is a nonpartisan initiative launched by the Institute and a coalition of nonprofits to help voters make sense of decisions put before them in this year's presidential election. Hedges said unlike electing representatives to create laws on your behalf, ballot measures are a form of direct democracy where voters are expected to do the work of governing themselves. In 2012, an average of seven percent of voters did not complete their ballots.

She said making informed decisions on complex initiatives is a challenge for many Coloradans who don't have time to do exhaustive research on every issue. Hedges said part of the solution is to create an online information hub where voters can review opposing points of view vetted by established and reliable sources.

"So we're creating 'trusted messengers' in communities so that everybody doesn't have to start from ground zero, but they can rely on folks who they know have the kind of reputation that they can trust and believe in their judgment on issues," she added.

The Count Me In campaign is scheduling presentations and conducting trainings emphasizing the role voters play in direct democracy to get more Coloradans to vote from the bottom of the ballot up.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO