Saturday, August 19, 2017
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Voting thoughts…

I sort of love that while a charismatic Donald J. Trump can whip a crowd into a frenzy and motivate voters in the miasma of anger and change, he boasts about his deal-making ability. But he can’t seem to understand that votes don’t necessarily translate one-to-one into delegates and it is delegates that are needed to win the nomination. The peacock of a dealmaker can’t seem to understand the fine print and win the deal over a smart and smarmy Ted Cruz. Colorado is a great example of that. I wonder if China or Mexico or Syria will insist on some fine print when dealing with Donald J?

I have contended for some time that a giant problem with today’s divisive politics is its roots in gerrymandering. That’s the practice of drawing designer precincts that guarantee a particular precinct will vote pretty much 100 percent of the time for one of the two major political parties. That practice ends up sending far-right politicos from Republican precincts and far-left politicos from Democrat precincts to Congress. The politicians have no reason to compromise with their fellow congressmen since someone from the other party cannot even legitimately challenge their seat. So the challenges come from the fringes and that hardens the whacko birds of both parties and leads to frustration, anger and dysfunction.

So thank goodness for a new push in Colorado, led in part by our own Kathleen Curry. “End Gerrymandering Now!” is a group comprised of Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated politicians. “In Colorado, voters don’t pick their politicians. Politicians pick their voters. Political partisans artfully draw districts for their friends and allies after each Census,” explains the group’s website. “This corrupt system of purposefully and artfully drawing districts to favor one political party or incumbent politicians, often bankrolled by special interests, is called gerrymandering. Our effort takes map-drawing out of the hands of political partisans by charging a bipartisan commission, using nonpartisan staff, with the responsibility of redistricting every 10 years. The commission would be required to use neutral criteria to draw fair and competitive districts for Congress, the State Senate, and the State House of Representatives.”

The group includes former governors Bill Owens and Dick Lamm, a Republican and a Democrat, respectively, and hopes to gather almost 100,000 signatures this summer to ask voters next November to create the bipartisan independent commission and staff to handle both redistricting and reapportionment.

Curry is rightfully excited about the movement. “If the measure is successful then it will be unconstitutional to draw legislative and congressional districts to ensure a certain political outcome, and unaffiliated voters will have a role in drawing the district lines,” said the former state representative.

This sounds like a good movement that deserves broad support. And if successful it should be considered in states other than Colorado. Perhaps it is a first step in helping to fix a broken national political system.

Speaking of the broken political system, it sure seems that after every Tuesday with an election, there are voting issues that result in fewer people being able to participate in the democratic process. What’s up with that? Decisions were made that resulted in fewer places to vote, with super-long lines, in areas of Arizona. People were turned away in New York after a purge of the voting lists. More restrictions were implemented that ended up with fewer people allowed to vote in Texas. Wisconsin passed strict voter I.D. laws that kept people from voting even though voter impersonation, the stated rationale for the law, is virtually nonexistent in Wisconsin. North Carolina and Ohio cut voting hours and made it less convenient to vote.

Overall, it appears the future will bring more draconian voting restrictions for people, especially minorities and young voters, in so-called red states. Reporter Ari Berman has been following the ramifications of voting rights changes this election season and he told Bill Moyers recently, “I’m very concerned we’re moving into becoming a two-tier democracy where if you live in a progressive blue state, you’re going to have much better election laws and if you live in a conservative red state or a GOP-controlled swing state, you’re going to have far worse election laws… I don’t think it’s fair that just because you live in Texas and not California, you should have such a hard time voting.”

Voting is a fundamental right of every citizen of this country. Making it harder to vote chips away at the foundation of this Republic.

I went over to the Crested Butte Town Hall Tuesday afternoon to check out the county’s new voting machines. They’re pretty impressive. Using a cross between something like a credit card and an iPad, I took a test drive and the process was clean and easy. I spoke to Gunnison County election officials and Dominion Voting representative Steve Bennett, and learned the new system should make local elections more efficient, transparent and accessible. And for those like me who want accurate results quickly on Election Day, this system should help speed everything up. It looks like a good improvement for all of us.

 

And finally, there is a quiet election for a small but potentially impactful special district this coming Tuesday, May 3. Five candidates are running for three seats on the Gunnison County Met Rec District board. The district was established about 40 years ago to access and subsidize over-the-air television. TV is a lot different now and gets into your home in a lot of different ways. Plus, while TV is certainly considered recreation, there has always been a desire to expand that definition.

Various moves have taken place over the years to broaden the mission and the district has certainly helped with several recreation projects all over the valley. Ice rink support, for example, came about in the heyday. There appears a new move to again broaden the district’s mission. It is being led by the three north valley candidates, Ian Billick, Dave Clayton and Derrick Nehrenberg. While I think any of the five candidates (Paul Wayne Foreman and Carolynn Cherry are the other two people running) have the capability to move the board into this century, Clayton, Billick and Nehrenberg are making it clear that is their intention. Whichever three are elected, it makes sense to move in that broader, more sophisticated direction.

You can cast your vote in Crested Butte at the Queen of All Saints Catholic Church or in Gunnison at the Fred Field Center.

Voting. It should be easy and it should count.

—Mark Reaman

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