In This Issue
Voters Disenfranchised?
Colors of Courage
Job Opening

Election Recap

Party CP people

In case you missed it ...
Amendment 46, the anti-equal opportunity ballot measure, was opposed by Citizens Project and rejected by Colorado voters
Amendment 48, the egg-as-a-person ballot measure, was opposed by Citizens Project and rejected by Colorado voters
Thank you to volunteers who donated countless hours to ensure the defeat of Amendments 46 and 48, and thanks to you, Colorado voters, for making your voices heard!

Upcoming Events  

The Laramie Project
A stage exploration of the Matthew Shepard story
Thurs., November 20
Sat., November 22
Wasson High School Auditorium, 2115 Afton Way, Colorado Springs
For more information,
call 719-328-2029

Educating Children of Color
 Sat., January 10, 2009
8am - 4:30pm
Harrison High School
2755 Janitell Road,
Colorado Springs
For registration information, call 719-444-5722 or email dianaschulz@elpaso.com

 Pikes Peak Progressive Events Calendar

Articles of Interest  
Federal Court OKs Prayer at County Meetings
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 28, 2008

Gay Marriage is a Question of Love
MSNBC, November 10, 2008

Misguided Views
Colorado Springs Gazette, November 12, 2008

Quick Links

Voters Disenfranchised in Colorado? 

By Elizabeth Payne
A series of disturbing events leading up to the presidential election this year caused many voters to question exactly how important democracy really is to some elected officials in the state of Colorado. That some instances originated directly from the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's office is especially disturbing to Citizens Project supporters. Adding to these concerns is evidence indicating that many of Colorado's election laws disenfranchise poor or minority voters. Further, Colorado was frequently seen in national headlines as one of several states poorly prepared to handle the 2008 presidential election.
El Paso County Clerk's Office Raises Concerns

In March, County Clerk Bob Balink sent an email to Colorado College containing inaccurate information about students' voter eligibility. The email stated that students whose parents had out-of-state residency were ineligible to vote. This inaccurate information was passed on to students, and Balink did not release a statement correcting his error until late September.
In spite of his retraction, Balink continued to post a letter on the Clerk and Recorder's Web site written by Zakhem Atherton, a law firm with strong conservative ties, which stated ramifications of student voting "could result in criminal penalties" and "could end up costing the parents well over $1,000 in income tax." Balink's actions likely had political consequences, since survey results indicate that college students favor Democratic candidates. A survey conducted by the Panetta Institute found that an "overwhelming majority [of students were] supporting the candidacy of Senator Barack Obama of Illinois." Balink, in contrast, was an outspoken supporter of John McCain and was a delegate to the Republican National Convention.
As the time for early voting approached, Balink's office made the decision to provide only three locations for early voting in El Paso County, although this election promised a very high voter turn-out. Past elections generally had double this number of early voting locations. Locations used in the past that were not offered for the 2008 election were located in low-income areas. Obama held a 2 to 1 edge over John McCain with low-income voters, according to an August poll conducted by the Washington Post. This suggests that the removal of early-voting locations in these areas had political consequences.
Further, replacement mail-in ballots generated from the clerk's office were marked with the voter's party affiliation. Several people who wrote letters to The Independent about this issue were concerned that this could lead to ballot tampering. Another issue with mail-in ballots was the failure to indicate that the postage required to mail the ballot was 59 cents; the ballots themselves simply said "sufficient postage required." These actions by the Clerk's office can disenfranchise voters and influence election results.
The Clerk's office came under further scrutiny when it was revealed that John Gardner, the office's information systems manager, had falsely asserted that he was a college graduate. Gardner's position places him in charge of testing electronic voting machines. Along with secretary of state Mike Coffman, Gardner decided to implement Diebold voting machines in El Paso County, machines which are prone to viruses and vulnerable to tampering.
Colorado Election Laws Disenfranchise Voters

In late October, several civic organizations joined together to file a lawsuit against secretary of state Coffman for two types of voter purging. Coffman's office purged 1,136 voters between July 21 and October 9 after non-forwardable mailings sent to the voters were returned to Coffman's office. This process is known as voter caging, which Project Vote, an organization whose mission includes working to "engage low-income and minority voters in the civic process," describes as "a controversial political tactic that typically targets minority voters to deny their right to vote or suppress their vote by intimidation." The process of purging voters through non-forwardable mailings and database matching is "used almost exclusively by officials or members of the Republican Party, local and national." The lawsuit claims that Coffman's actions are a violation of the National Voting Rights Act (NVRA).
The NVRA also bans voter purging within ninety days of an election; however, Coffman has admitted to purging at least 12,000 voters after the ninety day deadline, and there is evidence that over 20,000 Colorado voters may have been purged. This excessive illegal purging is reminiscent of the 2000 presidential election when 54,000 Florida voters were illegally purged. According to Spencer Overton of the George Washington University Law School, "90 percent of the voters [in 2000] who were purged were legal and should have been left on."
Colorado is currently one of seventeen states that requires some form of identification in order to vote. A study by the Task Force on the Federal Election System showed that six to ten percent of American voters lack any form of state ID. According to Project Vote, ID requirements "disproportionately impact the elderly, students, women, people with disabilities, low income people and people of color." Statistics indicate that minority voters are more likely to vote Democratic.  CNN exit polls report that Black voters favored Obama 96 percent to 3 percent McCain; Latinos, 67 percent Obama to 30 percent McCain; and Asians, 63 percent Obama to 34 percent McCain.
Colorado also disenfranchises convicted felons. Colorado is one of five states which permits felons to vote only if they are on probation or after probation has ended. Parolees and convicts are denied the right to vote. According to statistics from the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, the lifetime chance for a person going to prison are higher for blacks (18.6%) and Hispanics (10%) than for whites (3.4%). Further, imprisonment in 2001 was higher for black males (16.6%) and Hispanic males (7.7%) than for white males (2.6%). The disenfranchisement of convicted felons has political consequences, since minorities are statistically more likely to favor Democratic and minority candidates.

Colorado Poorly Prepared for Voters

At the state level, on October 16 the Brennan Center for Justice published a report which highlighted Colorado as one of ten states least prepared for the upcoming election. Colorado was one of two states listed, along with Virginia, which was considered a swing state in the election, meaning that the decision of voters could prove crucial to the election's outcome. The report listed Colorado's needed improvement in two areas: availability of emergency paper ballots and procedures to address voter machine failure.
In spite of all the forces working against them, Colorado voters were able to overcome attempts at disenfranchisement. While it cannot be determined to what extent voter disenfranchisement affected the election results, voters successfully thwarted ballot proposals which attempted to stagnate equality and infringe on the rights of citizens.

Colors of Couragepride center logo

The Pikes Peak Gay and Lesbian Community Center recently released an anthology of real life stories from LGBT and allied authors in Colorado Springs. Colors of Courage: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Life in Colorado Springs explores the history and culture of our local LGBT community, along with the hardships often faced by LGBT individuals and their families and friends. For more information, email Ryan Acker, Ryan@YourPrideCenter.org.

Job Opening

Colorado C3 Roundtable Seeks Executive Director

The Colorado C3 Roundtable is a coalition of Colorado's progressive 501(c)3 organizations dedicated to building an inclusive, engaged and equitable state for all Coloradans.

Job Summary: In close coordination with member organizations, the Executive Director (ED) is responsible for crafting and implementing a multi-year nonpartisan strategic plan coordinating civic engagement and other activities of Roundtable members. The ED will work to utilize the resources of member organizations and facilitate member involvement, action, and communication. As the first ED, there will be a unique opportunity to help build and shape the organization.

To Apply: Please email a cover letter and resume describing how your skills and experience are a good fit for the position to Resume@coloradoc3.org. Email inquiries only.