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Good government groups across Colorado Springs are gearing up for what is potentially a historic midterm election Nov. 8.

Cash contests, voter registration booths and online efforts are all aimed at increasing turnout for the state and national election. (See accompanying story below on voter registration and election day rules.)

One of the most innovate programs is a contest sponsored by the League of Women Voters Pikes Peak Region (LWVPPR). Generation Z residents of El Paso and Teller counties have an opportunity to produce a 30-60 second public affairs video with cash rewards. (See accompanying story.)

In addition, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office is sponsoring a competition among two-and four-year colleges in Colorado for the highest voter registration. In the past Colorado College has won the contest for four-year institutions, as well as being recognized for its high voter turnout.

The LWVPPR plans to produce candidate forums before the November elections to increase interest in the voting. Other community groups, like Solid Rock Community Development Corp. and Hillside Community center are planning voter registration tables and events.

This year’s November ballot will contain a number of city initiatives as well as countywide elections for sheriff, clerk, assessor, county commission, surveyor and judges.

The LWVPPR is also promoting Constitution Day Sept. 17 when it will send its members into classrooms around the region to discuss the importance of the Constitution and voting. Sept. 17 is the date that the U.S. Constitution was signed and Colorado has state rules requiring teachers to recognize the date and its importance. The League is asking teachers who would like guest speakers to contact the League’s office.

On Sept. 20 there will be a national celebration, the National Voter Registration Day, when non-partisan groups will organize voter registration drives.

According to LWVPPR spokesperson Shelly Roehrs, registering voters is only half the battle and perhaps not the most important.

“It is not just voter registration, it is voter empowerment,” she said. “If residents register but then don’t vote, it is all a waste of good effort and citizens remain disenfranchised.” 

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Win cash and maybe a Hollywood career

A unique cash contest is encouraging Generation Z residents of El Paso and Teller counties to create video shorts that encourage young people to register and to vote.

Called the “GenZVote” campaign, the contest is being sponsored by the League of Women Voters Pikes Peak Region and will award a $1,000 cash prize to winners in two different categories.

The categories are entrants 16-19 and 20-23 years of age. Each video is to be 30-60 seconds long and tell why it is important for Gen Z to turn out for elections.

Second and third place winners in each age group will receive $500 and $250.

The contest entries can be submitted to the LWVPPR starting on Sept. 1 and continuing until 5 pm on Sept. 19. Winners will be announced Oct. 3.

Contest organizer Peg Henjum had this to say about why the contest is important:

“GenZ is diverse and highly educated. They are proving to be socially responsible and understand actions speak louder than words. Their aspirations transcend partisan outcomes and generate hope for the future of our democratic experiment. We need the GenZ generation, as digital natives, to step up, use their voices and lead!” 

First time voter? What you need to know

Election day is Nov. 8. Deadline for registration is eight days ahead of the election, or Oct. 31, but in Colorado, you can reigster to vote and cast your ballot the day of the election. 

To register go to either the county elections site at elections@elpasoco.com or the state of Colorado site at www.govotecolorado.com. You can update your registration information at the state site.

Colorado is a vote-by-mail state. Ballots in El Paso County will begin to be mailed Oct. 17. If you do not receive your ballot in mail by Oct. 24, call the El Paso County Elections office at 719-575-VOTE (8683). You can also vote in person.

Mail ballots must be received by 7 p.m. at a voter site located around the county, or by mail on Nov. 8. 

Postmarks will not be considered. Election officials suggest putting in the mail by Oct. 31. Be sure to sign the back of your ballot envelope or it won’t be counted.

When voting in person, bring identification that shows who you are and that you are voting in the right district: Colorado drivers’ license; military identification card; Medicare card; student identification from a university or college, but not high school; U.S. passport; veteran’s card; certified copy of birth certificate; tribal membership card; or other U.S. government identification card.

If you register in person the day of the election, you’ll receive a provisional ballot until they confirm you are in the right district.

 Colorado also makes it easy to make sure your vote counts. Sign up at coloradosos.gov for ballottrax and you’ll get a text when your ballot is received and another when

it’s counted.