Voters, start your engines.
We’re less than a month away from the November election, and ballots will be mailed out to all registered voters in Colorado starting this Monday, Oct. 15.
Today, The Gazette and Colorado Politics team up to bring you the most comprehensive guide to voting in the state. We’ll explain in plain language all 13 ballot questions you’ll be asked to vote on this fall, and we’ve asked all the candidates in statewide races, county races and legislative races to answer a few questions so you can get to know them better before you cast your ballot.
Below is your guide to the guide, with answers to the 12 essential questions you’re probably asking yourself before you vote, and the page numbers to find more information.
So, what’s at stake in the November election?
Nationally, control of Congress is at stake. Right now, Republicans control the U.S. House and Senate, but that balance of power could change depending on this vote. If Democrats take control of the House, President Donald Trump may find new investigations and checks on his power.
Yeah, but does my vote really matter nationally?
It sure does. Coloradans live in a swing state, made up of roughly a third Republicans, a third Democrats and a third independents, so their votes for members of Congress could play a key role in swinging the balance in the House one way or another. In Colorado Springs, incumbent Republican Doug Lamborn is running against first-time politician Stephany Rose Spaulding, a UCCS professor and Baptist pastor.
Who is running for U.S. Senate?
Neither of Colorado’s two senators faces an election this year, so you don’t have to worry about that race.
How many ballot issues do I have to figure out?
Thirteen. Click here to read more about them.
Oh, God. What are the most important ones?
Proposition 109 and Proposition 110 are both measures to pump more money into fixing the state’s roads and highways. Proposition 109 uses bonds to raise $3.5 billion for 66 identified highway projects. Proposition 110 uses a state sales tax of 6 cents on a $10 purchase to pay for $6 billion worth of projects.
Amendments Y and Z deal with how the state draws its congressional and legislative maps. Currently, the Legislature draws the maps, so whichever party is in power generally draws them to their advantage. These amendments set up a committee of a dozen commissioners to redraw the maps.
Amendment 73 would raise $1.6 billion for public K-12 education funding by increasing taxes on wealthy people and corporations.
Amendment 74 would require state or local governments to reimburse property owners when new regulations have the effect of lowering property values.
Amendment 75 would change contribution limits when candidates contribute or loan $1 million or more of their own funds to their campaigns. The contribution limits would increase five times for the candidate’s opponent(s).
What’s the most controversial ballot issue?
Proposition 112, which would establish a 2,500-foot setback between occupied buildings and new oil and gas development. Proponents say the distance is needed for safety reasons. The oil and gas industry says the measure will devastate the industry and the state economy.
I should know this already, but remind me again, who’s running for governor?
U.S. Rep Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat, is running against Republican state Treasurer Walker Stapleton to replace the eight-year incumbent, Gov. John Hickenlooper. Read more about the gubernatorial race here.
What other state races am I voting in?
Attorney general, treasurer and secretary of state.
In the attorney general’s race, George Brauchler, the Republican who is currently a district attorney representing Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties, faces Democrat Phil Weiser, a former University of Colorado Law School dean who also served in the Justice Department in the Clinton and Obama administrations. (Read the candidate profiles here.)
In the secretary of state race, current Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican and former El Paso County clerk and recorder, is running against Democratic challenger Jena Griswold, an Estes Park attorney who previously served as a legislative fellow in U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette’s office and ran Hickenlooper’s Washington field office. (Read the candidate profiles here.)
In the state treasurer race to replace Stapleton, Republican Brian Watson faces Democrat state Rep. Dave Young. (Read the candidate profiles here.)
What about local races?
Colorado Springs residents will also be voting for a state senator and state representatives, two University of Colorado regents, El Paso County commissioners, a county clerk and recorder, county treasurer, county assessor, county sheriff, county surveyor, county coroner and a slate of judges. (Read the candidate profiles here.)
What if I’m overseas in the military? Can I still vote?
Oh, yeah. Historically, Colorado has one of the highest turnout rates in the country for overseas and military voters, topping 70 percent in the 2012 election, according to Secretary of State Wayne Williams. You can find all the information you need to vote overseas on the secretary of state’s website at www.sos.state.co.us under the Elections & Voting tab.
What’s my deadline for voting?
Your ballot must be received by 7 p.m. Nov. 6. El Paso County residents can return their ballots by mail, at voter service and polling centers or at ballot drop-off locations. If you mail it, make sure it’s postmarked no later than Oct. 31 so it gets there on time. And be sure to sign the back of the envelope! Your signature is required to prevent vote fraud.
OK, last question. How do I find out who won?