Thursday, November 13, 2008

November 10, 2008-Post Election 101

Consider This for November 10, 2008-Post Election 101

I cringed at times reading some of the letters to the editor in recent weeks and the apparent lack of knowledge that many writers had of our election process. It is a very sad commentary on our education system that voters are relegated to being told “who to vote for” or “what to vote for” rather than being told the reasons to vote for or against something or someone. I sometimes feel that voters are just moving blindly ahead following what their party leaders or the media might say about an issue or a candidate.

In the recent past there have been several laws enacted in the State of Colorado and other measures to help voters make informed decisions.

One was the single issue law that says that any ballot issue can only address one issue per measure to make it clear what you are voting for. There were violations of this law on the state and local level this past election. Bill drafters should know better but they continued to lump several issues into one question.

Another Colorado law says that if you vote “No” on an issue it means that you are against the issue. If you vote “Yes” that means you are in favor of the issue. As I write this there are at least two challenges to the wording of ballot issues being prepared on this single yes/no point.

In the past it was obvious that elected officials and governments at all levels were trying to confuse the voter on very creative wording of ballot issues. I am very disappointed that apparently some people never got the message this year.

Some basic election information that you can take with you before you vote again in the next general election in two years.

At the Federal level we vote every two years. The general election is always on an even numbered year such as this year 2008. The new office holders take office the following year and this election they will take office in January 2009.

At the federal level voters in Summit County only vote for President of the United States every four years. We vote for our United States Representatives to Congress every two years. All 435 members have to run every two years. That is why they call the House of Representatives “The People’s House.”

The members of the United States Senate have six year terms so approximately 33 Senators run every two years for another six year term. This year there were 35 Senators running.

The President has term limits and can only serve for eight years. Representatives and Senators in Congress are not term limited and can run for the rest of their lives. Colorado put Congressional term limits into law a few years ago but it was struck down by the Supreme Court. They said that the voters in Colorado could not make term limits for members of Congress.

I think that term limits are wonderful. Having served with some elected officials that might not have even deserved to live let alone be reelected, term limits are the way to go. Big lobbyists and campaign contributors hate term limits because it reduces the impact their money can have on elected officials.

Most of the state ballot questions are either to put something in state law (statutory) or an amendment to the constitution. I think that both methods are wrong. We send people to the legislature to do these things and it is only being lazy on their part to put the question to the people. This election we saw how large amounts of money can impact election outcomes.

I would like to thank both major political parties for running great elections this year. My only regret is that we don’t have many more parties attracting even more candidates. I am not sure that democracy is served by only two parties in an election. The rest of the civilized world is so much more civilized politically than the United States.

We get the kind of government we deserve like it or not. Only when you become informed will we get better government in the State of Colorado and in Summit County.

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