Ballot forum next week

Voting process, ballot issues to be discussed

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Voters have less than three weeks to learn about ballot issues and clear up any confusion they may have about the voting process before stepping into voting booths Nov. 2.

The Routt County chapter of the League of Women Voters is sponsoring a forum in Hayden on Tuesday to give voters the chance to ask questions about voting while discussing the nuances and possible effects of ballot measures.

Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland will begin the forum by explaining the different options for voting, including absentee ballots and early voting. She also will answer voting-related questions and hear residents' concerns about the voting system, said Mark Fischer, a league member who will be moderating the forum.

"In the last few years, just the process of voting has become a contested issue," he said.

After Weinland, Fischer will explain the background and details behind each ballot issue while making clear the differences between referendums and initiatives as well as the long-term effects of amendments to state statutes verses amendments to the state constitution, he said.

Fischer also plans to discuss what's not on the ballot, such as the lack of a proposal rectifying the conflict between the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, the Gallagher Amendment and Amendment 23 -- a "perfect storm" of tax revenue prohibitions and restraints that some say is the source of Colorado's budgetary crisis, he said.

Fischer has moderated forums for the past five elections. About 20 people typically attend the meetings, which are an opportunity for voters to respectfully speak their opinions and debate for or against ballot issues, Fischer said.

"I just generally give an overview, a general summary of the pros and cons. ... People are free to promote or oppose as they feel appropriate," he said.

Although local political candidates are invited to attend and participate, the forum is more about informing voters about ballot measures rather than hearing candidates' stances on the issues, Fischer said.

"It's more of an open conversation about the ballot issues. ... I personally try to stay as neutral as possible," he said.

The ballot issue forum will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Hayden Town Hall.

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