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Clerk to absentees: Don't Screw Up

This week the El Paso County election office started sending out absentee voting ballots for the Nov. 11 election, and Clerk and Recorder J. Patrick Kelly offered a few tips on making sure those voters aren't wasting their time.

"Absentee voting has really caught on across Colorado, and while it is convenient, it's important to remind voters that there are some simple requirements they need to remember," Kelly indicated in a press release.

Absentee voters will receive three items in their ballot packet: the ballot, an instruction/privacy page and a return envelope. Read the instructions and follow them to the letter, Kelly advises.

For example, each ballot must be returned in its own envelope, and if more than one are included, the ballots will, by state law, be voided.

Voters must also sign and date the self-affirmation statement on the return envelope, or the ballot will be rejected.

And, voters must place at least 55-cents postage on the return envelope because of the size of this year's ballot.

Absentee ballots can also be hand delivered no later than 7 p.m. on election day to the County Clerk and Recorder's office, at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave.

Got more questions? Call the election department at 575-8683.

Third partiers ignored but gaining

When presidential candidate Ralph Nader accepted the Green Party's nomination during its national convention in Denver in June, he repeatedly pleaded with the major media to not ignore him -- and other third-party candidates -- during the campaign. (Indy, June 29-July 5)

Nader also pointedly requested the help and influence of the same assembled media -- which included all three major television networks, and scores of daily print reporters --to ensure that he, along with Pat Buchanan and other third partiers, be allowed to participate in the presidential debates.

That didn't happen. Instead, Nader and Buchanan, as well as Libertarian Harry Browne and the 187 other declared candidates registered with the Federal Election Commission (some of these are certainly more serious about the race than others) have found themselves on the fringe of the debates, and barely that.

During the first televised debate, the uninvited Nader obtained a ticket so he could at least attend as a member of the audience. But, because the ticket officially belonged to someone else, Nader was told to leave or be arrested. So the candidate couldn't even stand outside looking in. He was, however, offered an appearance on a recent Saturday Night Live, with other guests including actor Rob Lowe and rapper Eminem.

Buchanan, in Colorado this week, jumped into the middle of the Columbus Day protest in Denver, reportedly calling Native Americans who were arrested for trying to block the parade "neo-fascists" and, in return, being reminded in print that his latest book criticized the United States for interfering with Adolf Hitler's efforts.

Meanwhile, Libertarians are claiming that their Browne could be the next Nader-like spoiler in states like Colorado and Illinois, where Al Gore and George W. Bush have been running in statistical dead heats. Pols have claimed that enough votes for Nader could take votes away from Gore, giving Bush the election.

A Sept. 10 poll conducted by Boulder-based Talmey-Drake showed Nader with 5 percent support, Brown with 3 percent and Buchanan with 1 percent support in Colorado.

According to Steve Dasbach, the national director of the Libertarian Party, "If the presidential race remains as razor-tight as it is now, [Browne] may be in a position to determine the outcome."

Cohousers, neighbors reach agreement

Escalating tensions were defused last week when the Planning Commission approved a concept plan for a 4.7-acre cohousing project in the Shooks Run neighborhood of Columbia and Corona streets -- presently the site of Pikes Peak Greenhouses.

The project will include 34 cohousing units, four single family homes, a small park and a commercial component on the property's perimeter.

The project was put into jeopardy when neighbors learned in late August that that the commercial component could be as large as 12,000 square feet.

Cohousers said the commercial component was necessary to keep the cost of cohouser dwellings affordable for middle-income participants. Neighbors worried that that much commercial encroachment would undermine the residential character of their community ("Cohousers, neighborhood association face off over commercial development," Sept. 7).

Cohousers offered to pare down the commercial component to 8,000 square feet, 6,000 of it for office space, with another 1,000 apiece for a small restaurant and retail store. Neighbors, however, wanted it limited to 5,000 square feet.

City regulations, meanwhile, require 95 parking spaces for a commercial facility that size, but the cohousers asked for a variance of only 50 spaces.

Neighbors objected, saying it would mean overflow parking onto Columbia and Corona streets, which are so narrow that, with cars parked on both sides of the street, only one car can pass at a time.

At last Thursday's meeting, planning commissioners managed to forge a compromise that both sides can live with, though neither got exactly what they wanted.

The cohousers agreed to limit their commercial component to 6,000 square feet, and both sides agreed to a parking lot compromise of 63 slots.

"We're not totally thrilled about the outcome, but we're glad cohousing is moving into the neighborhood," said Robert Macri, president of the Patty Jewett Homeowners Association. "We support their endeavor."

"This is fantastic," said cohouser Tim Burke. "We think this is the last of the tension. We're looking forward to being neighbors."


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