Oct 23, 2020 | NEWS | By Riley Prillwitz and Tali Juliano| Photo by Bibi Powers

Many students at Colorado College are first-time voters in the 2020 election, which can be an intimidating and overwhelming process. But never fear! This guide will break down how to vote as well as what it means to be voting for each federal, state, and local official or policy. 

The deadline for registering to vote in Colorado is Oct. 26, so there is still a small amount of time to register if you have not yet done so. El Paso County also allows in-person registration on Nov. 3, if you choose to vote in-person. 

If you are out-of-state at the moment but are registered in Colorado (and haven’t provided a current mailing address) you can request an absentee ballot online, which must be received by mail on Nov. 3. 

All votes need to be received by 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 3 to be counted and it is recommended that all drop-box or mail-in ballots are sent by Oct. 26. If you are registered to vote by Oct. 26, you may drop your mail-in ballot at a registered drop box or return it by mail. If you vote in-person, you must head to an official voting station on Nov. 3 (which you can locate here) and bring a valid form of I.D. 

There are quite a few new faces on the election ballot this year, as well as many new measures to vote on for new/updated Colorado laws. Below, each candidate and policy are broken down for the voter to understand. 

Colorado Senate Race

Other than the Presidential election, the most publicized election on the ballot is the state Senate race. Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is running for reelection, while former Gov. John Hickenlooper from the Democratic party is running against him. Their debate was covered by The Catalyst.

Senator Cory Gardner (R): 

Sen. Gardner’s website states that “Cory is focused on expanding the economy, creating jobs, and making life better for all Coloradans.” He is running to hold his current spot in the Senate. 

Cory Garder opposes the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and his website states that, “Fixing our healthcare system will require repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with patient-centered solutions.” Additionally, Gardner believes that the right to bear arms is under attack and that we must pursue policies that protect the Second Amendment from government overreach. See his full list of policy positions on his website.

Gardner has voted in line with the Trump administration 89% of the time in the past four years. Additionally, Garder voted against convicting the president on the impeachment charges he faced, supported the Senate bill blocking federal funds for abortion services, supported the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, and supports the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. His full voting record can be seen here.

The main criticism from both political parties about Sen. Gardner is his endorsement of President Trump for this election. Back when Access Hollywood released audio of Donald Trump admitting to sexual assault in 2016, Gardner rescinded his initial endorsement. Yet, as the 2020 election rolled around, the Senator gave his support to the President yet again. 

Many politicians see Cory Gardner as “one of the most vulnerable Republican senators in the country,” now that Colorado is a blue state, as stated by CBS News Denver

Governor John Hickenlooper (D):

Former Gov. Hickenlooper has a mission statement on his website saying, “We need a change. John believes this is a time for people who know how to do things differently — people like him who know how to work together to get things done.”

Hickenlooper supports establishing a national public healthcare option, common sense gun safety policies, and a clean energy plan for America. See his full list of proposed policies on his website.

As governor, Hickenlooper signed the 2013 bill prohibiting those convicted of domestic violence offenses from owning a firearm, signed the 2013 bill authorizing driver’s licenses and in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, signed the bill authorizing same-day voter registration, but vetoed a bill authorizing non-residents who own taxable property from voting in special district elections. You can view his whole voting record as governor here.

Many Democrats like Hickenlooper’s plans for social improvement but see ethical issues about his past, as explained by the Washington Post. Hickenlooper is known to have attended many antelope hunts in Wyoming where the men involved (all white) wear Native American headdresses, using cultural appropriation as a form of entertainment. 

Colorado District 5 Representative Race

Another tight race ensues for the representative of Colorado’s fifth congressional district (CD-5, which includes Colorado Springs). Incumbent Doug Lamborn is attempting to keep his seat, while Jillian Freeland is the candidate contesting him.

Doug Lamborn (R): 

Representative Lamborn is known as a strictly conservative Republican and receives much support from Republican voters of CD-5. Though, some younger voters are having a hard time seeing his views line up with their own and many are planning on voting for Freeland.

Rep. Lamborn supports a “free-market” approach to environmental policy, plans to repeal and replace the ACA, a border wall, and highly values pro-life values and religious liberties. See his full list of proposed policies on his website.

During his time as a representative, Lamborn has sponsored or co-sponsered over 50 “pro-life” bills, voted “No” on the pregnant workers fairness act, “No” on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act 2020, and no on the President’s impeachment. Find Representative Lamborn’s full voting record here.

Jillian Freeland (D):

Jillian Freeland is a fresh face on the ballot, vying for a spot in the House. She promises to focus on grassroots organizations and bring “true representation to our district.” 

Freeland has previously been involved with the district as a member of the El Paso County Board of Adjustment, El Paso County Community Corrections Board, President of Cuchares Ranch HOA (Homeowner’s Association) board, Chair of El Paso County Democrats Commissioner District 4, and Community Grassroots Organizer and Activist. She is also a former healthcare provider and private practice midwife with experience in the service industry. 

When asked about issues she would have to vote on if elected, Freeland gives clear, straightforward answers responding to the 2020 Political Courage Test. She states that she is “pro-choice” and believes in protecting the Supreme Court’s decision of Roe v. Wade. She is also in support of income tax increases as well as the support of entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. See her full list of policies here.

As a progressive candidate in a normally red district, it will be difficult for her already to win the vote of the people. 

State and City Amendments

There are quite a few county measures and propositions to vote on this election. These can also be wordy and hard to understand, so this ballot guide will break them down for you. 

Amendment B:

This amendment is complicated. According to 9 News’ poll, over 60% of Colorado voters did not know what to make of it. I strongly encourage you to watch their informative video on the Amendment, which explains it in depth.

Amendment B: Repeal Gallagher Amendment will take away the limitation of property tax on private as well as public property tax assessment rates. Assessment rates are part of a calculation that determines your property tax. The Gallagher Amendment requires that “residential property taxes … amount to 45% of the total share of state taxable property and non-residential property taxes amounted to 55% of the total share of state property taxes” as stated in the amendment. In reality, property values are 80% residential and 20% non-residential. These rates are adjusted to comply with the Gallagher Amendment’s required ration.

A vote “Yes” for Amendment B would repeal this law and allow all property types to be taxed the same. This means that the tax ratio above will no longer be required. In turn, this will mean that assessment rates will stay where they are.

A vote “No” will keep the Gallagher Amendment in place, which holds the property tax percentages above. This will mean that your residential assessment rate will be lower, which will result in a lower property tax bill.

Amendment C:

Amendment C takes a look at reassigning the legality of charities obtaining a bingo-raffle license. The amendment would require charities to exist for three years before obtaining a gaming license, as well as allow the charity to hire non-members to chaperone the games for a minimum wage.

Voting “Yes” for this amendment would allow charities to obtain a bingo-raffle license after three years of existence instead of five and hire outsiders to help run their games. Proponents argue this will make it easier for nonprofits to raise money and wouldn’t need to rely on volunteers.

Voting “No” would keep the required existence at five years and only allow volunteer members of the organization to organize any games. Opponents of the Amendment argue that this legitimization of games at these organizations would make them like gambling.

Amendment 76:

A “yes” vote would change the Colorado constitution from “every” citizen that has attained the age of 18 can vote to “only” a citizen that has attained the age of 18 can vote. Since the Colorado legislature recently passed the Colorado Votes Act to expand the right to vote in primaries to 17-year olds who will be eligible to vote in the general election, this will remove 24,000 young people’s right to vote in primaries. Additionally, a “yes” vote would put a permanent limit on age and citizenship requirements for low level elections. 

A “No” vote would keep the law as-is in which non-citizens cannot vote but eligible 17-year-olds can vote in primaries. This may also open the door for further expansions of the electorate for low-level elections such as school board elections, as Colorado is a home rule state. 

Amendment 77:

This Amendment would affect the Colorado cities where gambling is legal — Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek — allowing city citizens alone to approve higher betting limits and types of games. Currently, Colorado has “Limited Gaming” which means gambling is limited to a $100 maximum wager, slot machines, blackjack, poker, craps, and roulette, the three cities, tribal reservation lands in SW Colorado, and 35% of a building’s space. Any change to this currently requires a statewide vote. Amendment 77 only affects bet limits and games.

A “yes” vote would remove the requirement that any changes to gaming stakes come from a statewide vote and would give control over casino bet limits and new casino games to local communities.

A “no” vote would mean that current casino bet limits and games will remain in the constitution and a state-wide vote will continue to be required to change these restrictions.

Tabor Revenue Retention:

The 2020 CO Springs 2A Tabor Revenue Retention is an effort to bring city revenue back to what it used to be before the COVID-19 pandemic. Under The Taxpayer Bill of Right (TABOR) revenue and spending limits are based on the previous year’s revenue. This issue “seeks to do two things. First, TABOR limitations will be based on 2019 revenues, rather than 2020 due to the reduced revenue during the pandemic. Second, allow the City to retain and spend $1.9 Million (approximately $8 per taxpayer), for public safety (police and fire departments only).”

A vote “Yes” will allow the city budget to be expanded beyond the limitations presented by the 2020 city revenue.

A vote “No” would support refunding families their tax dollars and keep the reduced revenue for the city. 

State Propositions

Proposition EE: 

This proposition is an attempt to raise the amount of sales tax applied to any products containing tobacco and nicotine in the state of Colorado. There is currently no state tax on vaping products. EE’s addition of a nicotine tax will include vaping products. It will only take a simple majority vote to pass the proposition. The revenue will be spent on housing, tobacco prevention, health care, and by 2023 it will mostly go to preschool programs. 

A “Yes” vote would increase taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products, while adding a new tax on nicotine products such as e-cigarettes. 

Voting “No” would keep taxes at their current state, and there would be no additional tax added. 

Proposition 113:

This is a proposition by the citizens of Colorado to elect the President in terms of the popular vote and not the electoral college. Colorado would stay on a list with other states in agreement with the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which it joined in 2019 after a law signed by Gov. Jared Polis. States that are a part of this compact agree to pledge their electors to the winner of the national popular vote. 

A “Yes” would mean that Colorado is one of a growing number of states that, if enough enter the agreement, the President would be chosen by the national popular vote. Supporters argue that this would mean that each person’s vote counts equally and that non-battle ground states would no longer receive overwhelming attention from candidates.

A “No” vote means that the law signed by Gov. Jared Polis would be vetoed, and Colorado will not join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Opponents say that this would shift disproportionate emphasis towards cities and point to the possibility that Colorado must lend its electors to someone the state did not support with a majority. 

Proposition 114:

After many years spent close to extinction, the grey wolf is finally making a comeback in the southwest. Proposition 114 is an attempt to require the Colorado state government to reintroduce grey wolves back into the west of the state, which would help to increase their species’ population in the wild. Similar efforts have been successful in other states resulting in multiplied wolf populations where Colorado’s has remained stagnant. 

By voting “Yes” for this proposition, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission will have to make a reintroduction plan for grey wolves west of the Continental Divide by the end of 2023. Supporters argue that an increase in the wolf population would restore a balance to Colorado’s ecosystem.

By voting “No,” the government will not hold any requirements in this field. Opponents fear that an increased wolf population would put livestock and wildlife in danger. Others argue that this issue should be up to scientists, not voters.

Proposition 115:

A much discussed state proposition, Prop 115, is an attempt to prohibit abortions after 22 weeks. Currently, there is no restriction on abortions after a certain point in a pregnancy in the state of Colorado. In previous elections where abortion issues were on the ballot, none of them addressed the actual time frame in which an abortion can take place. 

A vote “Yes” would prohibit abortions after 22 weeks, except when required to save the life of the mother. This would not make an exception for rape or incest. Supporters argue that this has been a law in other states for many years, and some states have an even shorter window of 20 weeks from the woman’s last menstrual cycle. 

A “No” vote would keep abortions past that mark legal in the state. Others argue that this law contradicts the Supreme Court’s order of Roe v. Wade, as well as Planned Parenthood v. Casey

Proposition 116:

Proposition 116 proposes a decrease in state income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55%. Colorado has a fixed income tax rate regardless of income, which has remained 4.63% for the past 20 years. This proposition would keep the flat rate. 

A “yes” vote would reduce the state income tax for various Colorado properties (such as estates, individuals, trusts, and foreign/domestic corporations). This would cut 1.2 percent of the Colorado budget resulting in a reduction of $150 million for the 2021-22 fiscal year. Supporters argue that this would allow Coloradans to save more money and spend more in the economy.

Voting “No” is a direct opposition of this percentage drop. Opponents argue that this cut would impact government services amidst the hit to Colorado’s budget due to the pandemic.

Proposition 117:

Proposition 117 is a proposed law to adjust the budget and limit currently held by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). TABOR limits the amount of revenue that the state of Colorado can retain and spend. The limit of revenue is traditionally based on the past fiscal year’s revenue and spending. 

Voting “yes” will require voter approval for the government to create a new “enterprise” that collects a revenue greater than $100 million in its first five years to become exempt from TABOR. Supporters of the proposition argue that this is a way to give more power to the taxpayer, as many lawmakers have turned to fees and automatic exemptions to avoid spending more money. 

Voting “No” is a support for no change in the current system. Opponents argue that this measure would only make the situation of fees and exemptions worse, as lawmakers understand that voters refuse to pass much needed taxes elsewhere. 

Proposition 118:

Proposition 118 would provide 12 weeks of paid leave for medical purposes for Colorado workers. This guarantee would cover childbirth, adoption, abuse or sexual assault, family medical emergencies, and a family member’s active duty military service. This will be funded through a fee of .9% of workers’ wages beginning in 2023.

A vote “Yes” would support the creation of a statewide program to give families 12 weeks of paid leave funded by taxes. 

A vote “No” would leave the state of paid family leave the same in which there would be no guarantee. 

County Issues

Issue 2B:

Issue 2B on the ballot regards the ownership and distribution of parkland. This charter amendment would require voter approval of the transfer of parkland to any person or entity not controlled by the city

A “Yes” vote would require a citywide vote of any distribution or sales of parkland.

A “No” vote would give city elected officials authority over what to do with the conveyance. 

Issue 2C:

Similarly, Issue 2C would require a supermajority vote (7-2) of city council to pass any parkland conveyances. The council would get authority but must agree by supermajority vote. If both Issue 2B and 2C pass, only the one that receives the most votes will go into effect. 

A “No” would keep the majority vote for parkland conveyances at 5-4 instead of 7-2. 

Issue 4A:

Specific to the city of Colorado Springs, Issue 4A allows School District 11 to remove the state TABOR cap and revenue limit. A vote “Yes” allows this funding as long as funding is acquired by a means under the law, but a vote “No” denies this and may not allow them to retain funding from certain local, state, and federal programs or private grants. 

More information about Colorado ballot measures, propositions, and more can be found on the Citizen’s Project website, or in the Colorado 2020 Blue Book. Colorado Public Radio also provides in-depth coverage here, and CC Votes presents a complete ballot initiative guide in video format here

To all new and young voters at CC: know that while the process is very nerve-wracking and confusing, your vote in this election does matter. The impact your vote will have on the country can change the course of our society for the next four years, and even further into the future. Get out and vote this year!

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