Letter: With 1A, limited actually means an increase
I spent the early hours of Nov. 2 as an Eagle County “Unaffiliated” (Independent) election judge. I worked beside judges from the Republican and Democratic parties while supervised by Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Regina O’Brien and her able staff.
Preliminary late-night results were available hours after the polls closed at 7 p.m. that night, with more firm numbers available the next day. The deadline for the final certified results is Nov. 24, 2021. Extra days allow for post-vote audits, curing of signature discrepancies and for forwarding of paper ballots submitted by the deadline but need to be counted in the proper district, such as a town of Eagle resident dropping their ballot in Denver. As of Nov. 3, it appeared the voter’s voices were properly reflected in clear outcomes. But were they?
We have a trio of elected Board of County Commissioners who are for the most part active and articulate. Two of these commissioners (in districts 2 and 3) are in their second four-year term. This would have made them ineligible to run in the elections in 2022. These commissioners submitted a question(1A) which appeared on the ballot sent to all eligible Eagle County voters, which if passed by a simple majority, would permit any two-term elected commissioner to run for a third consecutive term. The commissioners’ ballot question passed in their favor, which allows all the incumbents, and others after them, to be eligible to run for a third term.
I have lived here since 2004 and rarely have I seen a ballot question with so few words, especially since this was initiated by the Board of County Commissioners who say they value collaboration. The suggestion and wording were approved by our county attorney, who serves at the pleasure of the board. While he would be professionally knowledgeable of what is written verbatim in the Colorado Constitution, regarding commissioner term eligibility, I doubt the average Eagle County voter would know this without researching the precise language.
I am not the first Eagle County voter who agrees that the wording in the ballot question, “Shall persons elected to office of County Commissioner be limited to service three consecutive terms, a modification of the current limits (two terms) …” is confusing. In this case the word “limited” means an “increase” in the eligibility to serve from the current two terms to three terms. Misleading?
Oxford language dictionary defines the word” limited’ as restricted in size, amount or extent. A synonym is “restricted.” The same source defines “misleading” as giving the wrong idea or impression. A synonym is “deceptive.”
Abraham Lincoln University compiled 10 Traits common to the best lawyers in the U.S. They include having great communication skills, knowledge of the law, and strong writing ability. The definition of a wordsmith is a “skilled “user of words. “Skilled” indeed!
Joanne M. Rock