Colorado voter culture — a silver medal in voter representation

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Collegian | Ava Kerzic

Ivy Secrest, Life and Culture Director

The state of Colorado has the second-highest voter turnout in the United States, according to Ballotpedia. Colorado has adopted policies and general attitudes that have created a robust voting culture.

“Our voters in Larimer County are amazing,” said Angela Myers, Larimer County clerk and recorder. “They conduct themselves appropriately, and they are not talking about how they vote. I’m talking about their respect for the voting process.”

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The voting process in Colorado has been made very accessible, making it easier for voters to have their voices heard. 

“In Colorado, … we make it as easy to vote as possible,” Myers said. “We have a hybrid system that allows you to vote in person if you want or vote by mail if you want, … and you know, we’ve got same-day registration, but all of that hybrid system has to come with checks and balances, which we also have in place as we go through the process.”

Easy access and a well-educated public contribute to the vested personal interest in election season. While in some states, there is concern about expanding access because of voter security, extensive checks and balances make Colorado’s voting system secure. 

“People recognize that at the local level, issues are sort of nonpartisan and really important.” –Sam Houghteling, program manager at the Straayer Center for Public Service Leadership

“I think the way we do with the way we run our elections contributes to a higher-than-is-typical civic participation,” said Matthew Hitt, associate professor at Colorado State University’s department of political science. “As an educator of political science, I think that’s great. You know, people ought to be educating themselves and participating in our democracy.”

Ballot boxes seem to be just about everywhere in Colorado, and the mail-in options are extensive. Voters have many options to continue to be engaged civically. 

“People recognize that at the local level, issues are sort of nonpartisan and really important,” said Sam Houghteling, program manager at the Straayer Center for Public Service Leadership.

These nonpartisan issues are what affect tax rates, how many roommates can live in a space, water policies and other problems facing the community, and voting gives people the opportunity to be in control of this. 

“Voting in small counties like Larimer can make or break policies. Myers said some policies have been passed or rejected by less than three votes.”

Hitt recommended making civic engagement less of a chore and turning it into something more fun.

“Consider getting your blue book, and let’s say, getting some friends together and like seriously making a party out of it,” Hitt said. 

Myers encouraged students to consider their financial aid when changing voting information and to consider where they want their vote to count. However, no matter where students vote, voting is an important part of civic engagement and can be made more enjoyable. 

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For Myers, the effectiveness of policies is deeply tied to voter security. Sometimes more ballot boxes aren’t as effective as constituents being aware of what is on the ballot. 

“Ballots are the most in jeopardy when they’re in the hands of the voter,” Myers said. 

She encouraged voters to take charge of their voting habits and not hand off ballots to others to be dropped off. Once the ballot is in the box, the odds of actual voter fraud are slim. Voting in small counties like Larimer can make or break policies. Myers said some policies have been passed or rejected by less than three votes. 

Having the second-highest voter turnout in the country does indicate an incredibly functional voter culture supported by constituents’ attitudes toward voting and local policy, but that doesn’t mean improvements in voter representation can’t be made. 

 “Why not be number one?” Houghteling said. 

Reach Ivy Secrest at life@collegian.com or on Twitter @IvySecrest.