Foster: The clock is ticking …
Have you cast your ballot yet?
The one whose ballot is still sitting, unopened, under a pile of mail on the kitchen counter. Or maybe you opened it, but are still trying to figure out what it all means. Or perhaps your busy schedule has stopped you from learning more about the questions and candidates at hand. Or maybe any number of other things have come up that have thus far kept you from grabbing a pen, making a few decisions you can feel proud of and getting the whole shebang back to the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s office.
Hey, life happens.
Election Day isn’t until Nov. 5, and if you haven’t voted just yet, you won’t get any judgment from me. Just get that ballot back to the county clerk by 7 p.m. on Election Day and I’ll be happy.
But really, you need to do it.
Because here’s the thing: Southeast Colorado Springs has a lower voter turnout than any other district in the city. In the November 2017 City Council election, residents in Southeast’s District 4 cast a total of 5,751 ballots. That compares to 9,762 in District 6, the next-lowest in terms of participating and 15,706 ballots cast in District 3, which had the highest turnout.
This April’s election saw an uptick in D-4 participation, with 7,392 ballots returned. But again, the area lagged behind every other district by at least half. (D-6 voters returned 15,273 ballots and D-3 again led the way in the city with 31,407 votes cast.)
I’m not making those numbers up: They came straight from the Colorado Springs City Clerk’s office.
There are lots of reasons people may not vote. Last year at this time, the Washington, D.C.-based Youth Service America (a nonprofit that is pretty much committed to exactly what you would think) released the results of a study it conducted on why youths don’t vote.
The top four reasons may ring true with some of you:
• They aren’t asked or encouraged to vote;
• They’re not taught how the government and elections work, or feel like they don’t know enough to vote;
• There are too many barriers for them to overcome; and
• They either don’t care or feel like their votes won’t make a difference.
So go ahead and consider this your ask. Or your encouragement. Or, frankly, us begging you: Please, cast your ballot. This one has measures that are important for your neighborhood, your school district, your wallet.
If you don’t understand the process or have the information you need to cast an informed ballot, no problem — we’ve got you covered. I’m so proud of the work the Southeast Express team did this autumn, partnering with a talented publishing class at Pikes Peak Community College to explore a range of facets on why people do — or don’t — vote, how the system works and how physical and mental health challenges can present obstacles to participation. You’ll find their stories in this edition.
Thanks to our hard-working students, we should answer your questions about the process. And of course, the Express team will bring you up to speed on what issues are on the ballot and who, if you’re a Colorado Springs School District 11 voter, is vying for a seat on the board of education.
We can’t tell you how to vote, or for whom, but we can and will give you the information you need to make a good choice.
Because your vote matters.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Data + Science Lab tells us that when it comes to local elections like this one, the overall voter turnout rates tend to be much lower than those when major jobs like the presidency are on the ticket. But local elections also give you the power to the elect the people who have the most impact on your day-to-day lives.
Look, truly every vote counts. In fact, in 1776, the signers of the Declaration of Independence considered it so important to heed the will of the public that they put it on paper … err, parchment: “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their powers from the consent of the governed.”
Go vote, Southeast, and let’s make your voice heard throughout the Pikes Peak region.
More special election coverage:
Step up to the ballot box
District 11 candidate questionnaires
Pulse of the presidential
An issue of access
For those facing mental health challenges, voting presents unique obstacles
Contact Southeast Express Editor and General Manager Regan Foster at (719) 578-2802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.