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Carlisle: Simple rules of voting

Marc Carlisle

Over the summer, I learned quite by accident that once every 12 months I can suspend my cable service and my bill for up to 30 days and resume service at no charge. Even if you aren’t gone for extended periods, or don’t own a rental property that stands empty in October, a boob-tube hiatus is good for the eyes, the brain and the libido.

This year, I’m going off cable Monday, Oct. 20, just about the time I expect to finish early voting. Service resumes Wednesday, November 5, hopefully just in time for me to get the election results. I hope I won’t hear about lines at the polls and voters who missed their chance. After all, there’s nothing of consequence that we don’t already know about the candidates, and if you’re waiting until the last minute to see if one of them snaps in anger, chokes back tears of exhaustion or frustration, or faces down a crazy assailant or even an assassin’s bullet, shame on you.

Observe Rule One of voting: Vote early. There’s no advantage to waiting, and consider what might have been if a few thousand more had voted in the 2000 election. Even if you choose to wait, use the next two weeks deciding, not letting events and impression decide for you, and go to the polls knowing what you’re voting for. That means you’ll have to do some work, because candidate choices aside, this year’s ballot has the usual laundry list of proposed amendments to the state’s constitution. Don’t despair, though; it’s OK if you don’t vote on every measure. That’s Rule Two: If you don’t know what you’re doing, then don’t do it.

Keep in mind that none of these measures is selfless, despite their intentionally vague yet suggestive titles, such as Severance Taxes on the Oil and Natural Gas Industry. In every measure, a special interest stands to benefit at someone’s expense. After reading the title of the aforementioned Amendment 58, you may feel you wield the pen of righteousness in demanding more from the oil industry. Rule Three should slow your hand ” earmarks are anathema, a plain old bad idea, and you should vote “no” on any measure that creates a constitutional ’til hell freezes over requirement that tax revenues be used in a certain way.

If Amendment 58 passes, the receipts will be distributed 60/15/10/10/5 to college scholarships, wildlife habitat, renewable energy, transportation projects and water treatment. Any idea how much we already spend in these areas, or will want to spend in 10 years? I don’t know, which is why common sense leaves these decisions to our representatives in the Legislature. Of course, one reason that earmarks are popular is because the numbskulls in the Legislature can’t be trusted to do the right thing with the money, our money.

The problem here, however, is not the numbskulls. They are, after all, our numskulls; we voted them into office, and if we don’t like the way they use or abuse our system of governance, then we should employ Rule Four: When in doubt, vote them out. There’s little wrong with our system of health care in this state beyond the power of our numbskulls in Denver and Washington to correct if they’d chosen to do so. None of the ballot measures speaks to health care; instead, you’ll find several attempts to circumvent the will of the people, giving rise to Rule Five: Measures that ignore the clear will of the voters should be rejected.

In 1992 voters approved a mechanism to limit arbitrarily growth in state spending, and rejected subsequent measures, of which Amendment 59 is the latest, to grant an exception to any special interest. Worse still, the amendment hopes to show favoritism to some in the one document that seeks to treat everyone equally, the Colorado Constitution. The Constitution is no place for all manner of rules governing employer/employee relations, paycheck deductions, or union dues, which is why we have a voting version of catch-and-release in Rule Six: Throw the small stuff back.

Using my own rules, I’ll probably vote no or abstain on everything. You may disagree, In fact, you may have your own rules, which is fine, although I hope we can agree on Rule One. Vote, and vote early.

Marc Carlisle writes a Thursday column. He can be reached at summitindie@yahoo.com.


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