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Op-Ed

Yo voté!

October 28, 2022

So I voted. Is that supposed to be a big deal? It’s no big deal in Colorado.

Robert Kahn

By Robert Kahn

Deputy editor emeritus, Courthouse News

How to vote in Colorado

You don’t got to do nuttin’, ‘cept register & vote.

After you register, the General Assembly’s Legislative Council sends a 2022 State Ballot Information Booklet to you and to every household in the state with a registered voter. The 110-page blue booklet presents the titles and texts of every proposition to be voted on, along with analysis of each one and arguments for and against them.

All of the judges up for reelection are evaluated by the State Commission on Judicial Performance, along with a short biography. I made sure to vote for the guy who plays violin in the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra, and the community theater lady. I didn’t vote one way or the other for a coupla other judges. The privilege of the vote allows you to not vote.

I know what you’re thinking: Does playing violin or acting on stage make someone a better judge?

Yes.

Then I got a Notice of Election, with Analysis of the 2022 Ballot Proposals, from the Arapahoe County Clerk & Recorder. This 30-pager contains the texts of all local — city- and countywide — issues up for vote, along with analyses submitted by proponents and opponents of each one. Instructions on how to vote are offered in English, Spanish and Russian. (Denver has a sizable community of Russian expatriates who, like expatriates everywhere, tend to congregate in a certain neighborhood. I could describe the ‘hood for you but I won’t, because why should I? I’m sure they’ve got enough problems of their own, without people drawing roadmaps.)

These booklets are a tremendous boon for Coloradans, and for the state and the union. Consider me: I’m a news junkie but I had no idea, for example, who the appeals court judges are and what they do for fun. Is it important to know that before you vote for or against them? Yes.

Then I got a mail-in ballot sent to me, as did every registered voter in Colorado. That too was a boon, as I’m the kind of guy who often as not turns up at the dentist’s office a week early or a week late. I propped the ballot up on the piano, so it would haunt my conscience until I filled it out and mailed it.

The State of Colorado deserves a lot of credit for all this. Writing, editing, producing and mailing the booklets surely cost at least $10 million, as Colorado had 4,383,785 registered voters as of Oct. 1, according to the secretary of state. But if you want a decent government — and who doesn’t? though putting those two words together seems incongruous today — you must begin with an informed citizenry.

I especially like that the state provides us with arguments on both sides of the issue.

Now — as my junior high social studies teachers used to say — compare and contrast Colorado with the states where it’s hardest to vote: Alabama, Texas, Wisconsin, Arkansas and Mississippi. Why do Republican lawmakers want to make it hard — indeed dangerous — to vote? 

And why are Republican lawmakers and candidates, who scream so loud about the nonexistent “theft” of the 2020 presidential election, the ones working the hardest, in the open, at all levels, from the school board on down to the presidency, to make it easier to steal the next one?

Republicans today remind me of those sniggering priests who droned on and on about purity and virginity before leading their favorite choirboy back to the sacristy again. Or, to be fair, they remind me of Israeli politicians mumbling about equality and democracy.

We, all of us, should be celebrating the vote, bringing the vote to everyone. We should make Election Day a holiday, so you don’t have to get up early, or stand in line on the way home from work, so you can be sure you’re allowed to vote. We should have expatriate Mexican block parties in Mexican neighborhoods, a Russian block party in Denver’s Russian neighborhood, Greek block parties in Chicago’s Greektown (I’d go to that one, and I ain’t even Greek).

Why, then, are Republicans making it so difficult and even hazardous for people to vote?

I know the reason, and so do you.

So what do you say, should Election Day be a time to party, a day of joy, or, as Republicans would have it, a day of fear and trembling?

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