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Eagle County confused about ballot initiatives

Dustin Racioppi
dracioppi@vaildaily.com
Eagle County, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” KC Lasher stood among dozens of early voters Friday afternoon at the Eagle County Annex armed with a cheat sheet and a certain amount of confidence before filling out the state’s long-winded ballot.

“I tried to read up on these, but it’s tough,” the East Vail resident said.

With a bevy of amendments and referendum items for voters to decide on ” like when a fertilized egg becomes human, an increase in sales tax and labor union fee conditions, among others ” Lasher is one of thousands in the area asked to do more than just fill in circles next to candidate’s names.



And that task, it seems, requires more than glancing at the ballot and making a quick decision in the booth.

“I thought the wording (on the ballot) was tricky. You had to be careful,” Lasher said. “You read it and say, ‘I thought I was going to vote this way but now that I look at it closer, I’m going to vote the other way.'”



The language of this year’s ballot questions seems to be the biggest complaint among voters, many saying it’s often vague, wordy or downright confusing.

“There should be an amendment saying that all amendments should be written in plain English,” said Ron Pollack, also of East Vail, and admittedly perplexed by the ballot. “There’s no way anyone short of a lawyer can figure those things out. They’re ridiculously confusing and I think purposely so.”

There is one way for voters to avoid the confusion, and that requires some self-discipline and studying before hitting the polls, which Lasher did.



“I think if I just went in there cold and read the ballot, I think I would’ve been really confused. And I don’t think I would’ve been so confident about my vote,” he said.

Edwards resident Seth Bossung took the same approach by reading a state-issued handbook simplifying the voting options. He went through a similar experience in California several years ago in an affirmative action vote that tested his ability to decipher jargon and obscure wording, and now knows that his vote ” if not thoroughly understood beforehand” may not have been what he intended it to be.

“I’ve been reading and re-reading. That (handbook) was beneficial because I could sit down at my table with my notes and go over it,” he said. “The difficult thing is the way (the questions) are worded. Without background knowledge, it’s very difficult to understand the issues.”

But not everybody has the time to cram high school test-like hours prior to their vote, like Kindra Skluzacek, who hasn’t yet polished up on the issues but said she’s made it a point to sit down with her husband before Tuesday to wrap her mind around the ballot’s options.

“I am so uninformed about the state, which is horrible, because I’ve been more focused on the presidential stuff,” Skluzacek, also a mother of two, said. “This stuff is so important. I need to sit down and read through all these.”

Time is ticking for Skluzacek, though, along with plenty others who may be heading into the voting booth unaware of the challenge ahead.

“I guess my biggest fear is people don’t become somewhat knowledgeable on the amendments,” Lasher said, “and they either don’t vote or they guess ” which is worse.”


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