Denver Women's Commission
Voting: Your Frontline of Defense, August 2000
Prepared for Colorado Woman News
By Chaer Robert
August 7, 2000
Voting: Your Frontline of Defense
Express your values. What should we do about guns, abortion, education funding, social security, child care, taxes, and growth? Almost every important issue in women’s lives will be affected by your decision. For the next two months, this column will highlight sources of information to help you make choices that reflect your priorities.
Being an informed voter is no easy task. This fall you will select a president, a Congressperson for the U.S. House of Representatives, Colorado’s Secretary of State, your state representative, and an at-large representative to the State Board of Education. Some of you will also pick your state senator, regional representative to the State Board of Education, a district representative to the University of Colorado Board of Regents, and a district attorney.
That is only the beginning. Six proposals were referred for citizen votes by the state legislature (referendums). Up to six proposed constitutional amendments will be one the ballot via citizen petition (initiatives). In addition, voters will review local referendums and initiatives, such as the “Kids Tax” for children’s services in the City & County of Denver.
If you voted two years ago, you are still registered. If you have moved, you need to reregister by October 9, 2000. Students who claim residency can register and vote here. You can register at your county clerk’s office, drivers’ license offices and other sites. Or you can call the Secretary of State 303-894-2680 and ask them to send you a voter registration form to mail to your county clerk’s office.
Identify Your Candidates
To identify which districts you are in, and which candidates are running for the various offices in your area, call your county clerk’s office. Many websites also now allow you to find out which districts you are in by entering your zip code, e.g. www.vote-smart.org or www.dnet.org You may receive this information from a candidate or from one of the political parties or you might not. Your neighborhood organization might sponsor local candidate debates, or they might not. You can contact candidates or their campaign headquarters directly to ask specific questions or for locations of local appearances or debates. Some candidates are running unopposed.
Work For or Donate to Candidates Who Express Your Values
It takes money and/or a lot of legwork for a candidate to reach you and communicate what they stand for. Money talks. A candidate needs a certain amount of money to print brochures, do mailings, and, for statewide or national campaigns, to buy television time. If you find a candidate you strongly support, show it through your gift of time and/or money. If you want to find out who else in your zip code is giving to a national candidate, or who is giving to which national candidates, try www.opensecrets.org Who gives and who gets can tell you more about their values than a campaign brochure.
Unfortunately, only national information is available there. In Colorado, some financial information is available online through the Secretary of State’s Office: www.sos.state.co.us. This site also has a list of committees supporting or opposing ballot measures, including some websites, a list of candidates by district, and a list of political action committees (PACs).
Research the National Elections
The race for president takes the lion’s share of media attention and has the greatest amount of information available. For an overview of party differences, you can review their websites, or call their local offices:
Republican National Committee: www.rnc.org 303-758-3333
Democratic National Committee: www.democrats.org 303-830-8989
Green Party (World-Wide): www.greens.org 303-575-1631
Reform Party: www.reformparty.org 303-703-1110
Each gives you an idea of what their party stands for as well as some information or links to their party’s presidential candidate. For side-by-side comparisons of presidential candidates on issues, try www.voter.com
I think the most interesting way to study national candidates is a new feature in www.vote-smart.org It allows you to search the collected political speeches of candidate for keywords. Who’s talking about equal pay or breast cancer or homelessness? It then goes to the text of the speech and super-bolds your keyword. This way you can quickly find the reference, but also have an idea of the context of the remarks and who the candidate’s audience was.
Decide on Ballot Issues
Critical issues will face you this fall. Should we cut each tax in each tax bill by $25. each year? Should it be a crime for doctors not to report to the state how many abortions they perf