October 28, 2022 | NEWS | By Marynn Krull | Photo from The Catalyst Archives
As Block Three begins, the weather grows colder, and 2022 enters its final months, Colorado College students find themselves with one more crucial responsibility: voting. The 2022 midterm elections are in full swing and organizations like CC Votes, a nonpartisan student voter engagement group, are hoping to mobilize student voters before Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
The group, in cooperation with New Era Colorado, a youth civic engagement organization, will be available for students from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at ‘Get Out the Vote’ tables in the Worner Student Campus Center through Election Day. They are offering goodies, handouts and voter instructions, and trained personnel that can help students navigate the voting process at any stage.
“Midterm and state elections are really important in terms of shaping our policy in this country in present-day and far into the future,” said student liaison between CC Votes and New Era, Maddi Schink ’24. “Participating in our democracy at every stage is really important,” Schink said, noting that local issues can be decided over very few votes.
“The language in ballots is archaic; it’s really hard to understand and break down. I recommend that you take some time to do research and really take your time with your ballot to decipher those really important ‘extra’ things,” Schink said.
“Know what the issues on the ballot are. The biggest thing is making sure people get the facts [and know] what they’re voting for,” said Board Chair of Colorado Latinos Vote Chuck Montoya. Colorado Latinos Vote is a nonprofit organization that was founded during the COVID-19 pandemic and works to encourage more Latinx and POC Coloradans to vote. The organization connects voters with Ballotpedia and the Ballot Information Blue Book, which break down individual issues and current arguments on both sides of the aisle.
“Every election is important,” said Montoya. “People need to be informed voters because there are long-lasting impacts from these elections.”
Based on the aforementioned resources, below is an overview of the state and local issues that will appear on this year’s ballot as well as more tips and resources for ensuring every student vote counts:
Referendum Amendment D: Designating Judges in District 23
In 2020, the Colorado State Legislature passed House Bill 1026, which removed Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln County from the 18th Judicial District to create a new 23rd Judicial District. District 18 is the most populated judicial district in Colorado, encompassing over a million people as of Jan. 2022. House Bill 1026 will move Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln County into the new district of eight judges total. This increases the total number of judges in the state by one, however there is currently no legislative route to appoint and designate a new judge following the current constitutional process. Amendment D, if passed, will be a one-time modification to the constitutional process, which will allow the governor to appoint the additional judge, as well as void the requirement that a judge resides in their district on the day of the appointment so that District 18 judges will be able to relocate to their new district. Judges will be required to move to District 23 by Jan. 2025.
Referendum Amendment E: Property Tax Exemption Extended to Spouses of Disabled and Deceased Veterans
Currently, seniors and qualifying disabled veterans, and their spouses, receive the Homestead Exemption, which exempts 50% of the first $200,000 of a property’s actual value from their property tax. If passed, this amendment would extend the Homestead Exemption to the spouses of deceased veterans and of veterans who died from service-related medical conditions. The state would reimburse local governments for lost revenue from the exemption from TABOR refunds and the state General Fund.
Referendum Amendment F: Decreasing Requirements to Hold a Charitable Gaming License
Currently, nonprofit organizations must exist for five years before they can obtain a charitable gaming license, which allows an organization to raise money for charity by offering games that can be won for money. Additionally, nonprofits must have unpaid volunteers work the games. If passed, Amendment F would shorten the amount of time an organization must exist to three years until 2025, after which the state legislature can set the length of time. Additionally, Amendment F would allow managers and operators of games to earn minimum wage until July 2024, after which the minimum wage limit will be removed.
Proposition FF: Reduce Income Tax Deductions to Fund the Healthy School Meals for All Program
Referendum Proposition FF will lower the cutoff for itemized and standard deductions from those making over $400,000 a year to those making over $300,000 a year. Itemized and standardized deductions for those making over $300,000 a year will be limited to $12,000 for single filers and $16,000 for joint filers. Revenue from this proposition will fund the Healthy School Meals for All program, which provides free school meals to all children in Colorado public schools and raises wages for employees working in school cafeterias. This would allow for the continued provision of free school meals for students, as Congress did not reapprove the federal program that provided free meals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Referendum Proposition GG: Including Effects on Income Tax in Initiative and Ballot Language
Proposition GG will require citizen initiative petitions to feature a table that shows the potential increase or decrease in individual income taxes resulting from the initiative. Moreover, the ballot titles and fiscal impact summaries would be required to display whether income taxes will potentially increase or decrease based on the initiative via tax tables and plus (+) or minus (-) symbols in the ballot title.
Statute Proposition 121: Reducing State Income and Corporate Tax Rate
Proposition 121 will reduce the corporate and income tax rates for all Coloradans from 4.55% to 4.40%. Colorado has a flat income tax rate regardless of household earnings, which means that all taxpayers pay the same rate. It will also reduce the excess revenue that is refunded to Colorado Taxpayers, as required by the Taxpayers Bill of Rights.
Statute Proposition 122: Decriminalization of Psychadelic Substances, Sealing Psychadelic-Related Convictions, and Instituting Regulated Access Programs
Psychedelic plants and fungi are currently classified as a Schedule I controlled substances in Colorado. Proposition 122 would decriminalize psychedelics for those 21 and older in licensed facilities, as well as create a program that supervises the administration of psychedelic substances and regulates the growth, sale, and distribution to allowed entities. A Natural Medicine Advisory Board will oversee the regulated access program and establish rules. Moreover, the proposition would allow those who completed sentences for convictions related to psychedelics to petition a court to seal the record of the conviction. Personal recreational use of psychedelics will be prohibited.
Statute Proposition 123: Creating the State Affordable Housing Fund with Income Tax Revenue
Currently, the state allocates money from the federal American Rescue Plan Act to address housing access, but this is a one-time fund that will run out. Proposition 123 will dedicate .01% of existing income tax revenues to affordable housing programs. This portion of tax revenue will be exempted from TABOR spending limits, meaning it will not be factored into taxpayer refunds.
Statute Proposition 124: Increasing the Possible Number of Stores Under Retail Liquor Store Licences
Currently, retail liquor store licenses only allow retail liquor stores to open three liquor stores in Colorado. Drugstores holding liquor licenses can only open eight stores in Colorado. Proposition 124 will gradually increase the number of stores that licensees can open every five years until 2037, after which a licensee can open an unlimited number of stores.
Statue Proposition 125: Creation of a Malt Beverage and Wine Retail License
Proposition 125 would create a new license that allows grocery, convenience, and other stores authorized to sell beer to sell wine and malt beverages.
Statute Proposition 126: Alcohol Delivery Service
Currently, businesses holding liquor licenses that deliver alcohol must use their own employees of age 21 or older. Proposition 126 will allow businesses to contract third-party delivery services such as Doordash and GrubHub to deliver alcohol to customers.
Voter Tips and Resources
The most important thing, Schink says, is making a plan to vote and planning early to avoid pre-election panic. Students can go to the CC Votes table at any point in the voting process for help making and carrying out a voting plan.
The last day voters can register online to vote and receive a ballot in the mail is Oct. 31 but there are many opportunities to register and vote after this deadline. Mail-in ballots should be sent no later than Nov. 1, and Schink suggests using two postage stamps, which can be purchased at the Campus Mail Center, to ensure there are no mailing issues. Ballots can also be dropped off at any 24-hour drop box or Voter Service Center. For any concerns, questions, to drop off a ballot, or to vote on election day, CC students can go to Centennial Hall, which is under 1.5 miles from campus and within Safe Ride range.