If you’ve lived in Colorado long enough or even just moved here in the past few years, you’re likely used to long ballots.
You get the big envelope in the mail, unfold the thick-stock paper inside and just stare: A list of people you’ve never heard about running for offices you didn’t even know existed. And that’s before you start reading all those ballot measures facing your local community and the whole state.
Questions about who should be the next U.S. Senator from Colorado or your next county commissioner, coupled with questions about universal healthcare, beer and wine, oil and gas, caucuses and primaries, and more, are important. This year the November ballot mailed to your home could be one of the longest in memory.
What can you do to make sure you’re informed before mailing it back?
Besides reading up on all the candidates and doing your own research, a new national project with a focus on Colorado, called Change Politics, wants to help you find out which candidates your friends are supporting. The project doesn’t yet include ballot measures, but as it rolls out over the coming months those working on it say they hope to include them.
Already, nearly 500 candidates in about 250 races specific to Colorado appear on the site, including the statewide race for a University of Colorado regent position, along with several other regents elected by district. In Colorado, these regents govern more than 60,000 students and oversee a $3.5 billion budget, and they’re typically not races that capture the attention of average Coloradans.
“The way we see it, there is still a big gap between registering to vote and feeling empowered to make confident voting decisions — especially in local races,” says Eva Arevuo, a spokeswoman at Change Politics, which is a project of the nonpartisan Change.org.
On the website, voters across Colorado can not only see what their full ballot will look like in November including federal, state and local races, but also endorsements next to each candidate’s name— testimonials by regular Coloradans, not just organizations or other politicians.
For instance, see why this former homeless alcoholic likes GOP U.S. Senate candidate Robert Blaha:
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Or why this undocumented immigrant supports incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet:
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Consider it Yelp for Colorado politics.
“Voters can also publish their own endorsements to share with their networks and continue the cycle,” Arevuo says. “Our big vision is that by giving voters the chance to crowdsource recommendations for every race on their ballot, we might increase informed and confident participation in local races, and shift electoral influence from parties and paid ads to trusted personal networks.”
Colorado is one of only two states in which Change Politics chose to focus on down ballot races — California is the other — because of the high number of competitive districts and particularly because of the large U.S. Senate race taking place this year. Local races like the one for Denver district attorney also made Colorado attractive.
When Nick Troiano, who manages politics for the project, asked some voters in Colorado how they decide who to vote for when faced with a race on their ballot in which they don’t know any of the candidates, he didn’t like what he heard.
“Some people said they’ll skip it,” he told the project’s Colorado media news partner 9News, “but some people said, well, I do Eenie Meenie Minie Moe. That’s not a good way to choose the leaders who govern us.”
So who do you like for any of these Colorado races? Head on over to the website and tell your friends.
Photo credit: FutUndBeidl, Creative Commons, Flickr