Ferry: Choose a candidate and get involved in the political process this election year (column)
Since the election season has changed so dramatically over the past few years, I thought I’d fill you in on what it all means. Here’s the low-down.
This election season is at its height, and the clock is ticking.
To start with, it no longer goes until November. Well, technically, yes, but with the advent of mail-in ballots and with Colorado becoming an all mail-in ballot state, the ball gets rolling significantly earlier.
For example, all of the deadlines that regulate candidates’ ballot access are made earlier than before. But the impact to the registered voter comes when they actually receive their ballots.
For military and overseas voters, Saturday, Sept. 22, is the last day to transmit ballots and ballot materials to overseas military voters. It’s also the first day a county clerk may begin issuing a mail ballot to any eligible elector who requests one in person at the county clerk’s office. And Friday, Oct. 5, is when county clerks must issue those ballots.
So these two dates, Sept. 22 and Oct. 5, are really key because voting actually starts when that first voter shows up at the clerk’s office and requests his or her ballot. That’s up to 4 ½ weeks before Election Day.
Monday, Oct. 15, is another milestone. It’s the first day that mail ballots may be mailed to voters, except for those covered by the UOCAVA (which stands for Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act) while Friday, Oct. 19, is the last day. That’s three weeks before Election Day.
What does that mean? The candidates need to get moving — and now. Gone are the days when the elections got rolling in full force right after Labor Day.
What you’ll see is lots of activity much earlier than in the past. And that also means you’ll start getting inundated with mailers, robo calls, fundraising requests, etc. Even though they’re annoying, they must work or campaigns wouldn’t spend millions of dollars every year just to torture us.
Here’s something you may not realize: We keep seeing the number of unaffiliated voters increase while the number of voters attached to major parties decline. There are many reasons for that, but people tell me they switch to unaffiliated because they’re tired of the onslaught of campaign marketing, which they assume is related to party affiliation.
Wrong. Both sides target unaffiliated voters — and it’s relentless. In fact, they get bombarded significantly more than other voters.
However, back to the candidates.
Something that most people don’t know is that the political parties don’t just jump in with a check. First, they assess the race to see if it’s winnable. Then they assess the candidate. If they see potential in both, then they sit back and watch.
What do they look for? They want to see if a candidate has a plan, is committed and is working hard. But here’s the real lynchpin — does the candidate have support among his or her constituents? And, primarily, they look at what funds they have raised.
Here’s what impresses them the most: the number of donors. People often assume their contribution is too small to make a difference. Not so. State parties are more impressed with 100 donors giving $10 than one donor giving $1,000. And based on those criteria, a state party decides if it will jump in with some financial support.
The other misconception is that the state and national parties somehow finance the local parties. Another wrong. Any money we get is raised through donations and events.
Well, that’s it in a nutshell. If you’re interested in the future of the country, then get involved. And if you are interested in a particular party or candidate, then write a check, volunteer or make calls.
My philosophy has always been: Everyone doesn’t have to do everything, but everyone must do something.
Make a choice and become involved. Your future and the future of the country are on the line.
Kaye Ferry is chairperson of the Eagle County Republican Party. For questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 970-376-5100.