Friday, October 22, 2010

Voters confused by county ballot language

Posted By on Fri, Oct 22, 2010 at 4:43 PM

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We've received a handful of phone calls and messages the past few days from voters who, in filling out their mail ballots for the Nov. 2 election, have hit a snag at the three El Paso County questions — 1B, 1C and 1D — dealing with whether to extend term limits for elected officials at the county level.

Here's the problem: The ballot language for each of those questions asks whether the officials in question (district attorney for 1B, county commissioners for 1C, other county offices besides sheriff for 1D) should "be limited to serving three consecutive terms, a modification of the current limits permitted by Article XVIII, Section 11 of the the Colorado constitution."

Nowhere on the ballot does it say that the proposed change would INCREASE the limit from two consecutive terms to three. Yes, it does say three terms would be a "modification," but that assumes the voter knows the current term limits.

One woman voter, who called the Independent this morning, said when she first read the ballot language, she was prepared to vote yes because she thought that would mean no change. Told that was the wrong conclusion, and that a yes vote would mean EXTENDING term limits, she quickly made it clear she would vote no on all three questions.

Another typical caller, who identified himself as Rick, had exactly the same impression after first reading the language on the ballot for 1B, 1C and 1D. He wondered if there might be a way to have the wording changed at this late date. Told that would be impossible, Rick said he would consider filing a lawsuit (presumably against El Paso County) if the extended term-limit questions actually pass.

Indy readers hopefully recall that our previous coverage has clearly portrayed these questions as extending the limits from two four-year terms to three four-year terms, and that our election endorsements urged voters to say NO to all three questions.

But given the number of calls from different people with the same misconception, it's worth putting this information out there, hopefully to raise awareness. Questions 1B, 1C and 1D are asking for the affected public officials to be allowed a third four-year term. If you think the extensions are acceptable, vote yes. If you think two four-year terms should remain the maximum, vote no.

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