Oct 212008
Authors: Madeline Novey

More than 100 students who attended the first Ballot Book Information class, part of the student government’s attempt to educate registered voters Tuesday night, were introduced to the 14 initiatives and referendum they will see on the Colorado ballot this Nov. 4.

Officials said the hour-long ballot education class was part of student government’s three-phase election campaign to promote voter registration and voter education and to get voters to the polls this month.

“We broke (the ballot) down so that people could better understand what they’re voting on,” said Grant Borgen, an assistant director for the department of Legislative Affairs. “It’s really complex material with vague language, and we’re making sure students are informed and make sure they do vote in a way that they understand.”

Borgen said that political science professors, whose classes focus on state and local politics and American legislature, supported the Associated Students of CSU’s efforts and aided in the “more than expected turnout” when they offered extra credit to students who attended the ballot class.

“It’s a great thing to see people turn out for this,” Borgen said. “We were expecting to see 20 people, and it was exciting to see people cared as much as they do.”

As Borgen and Dan Gearhart, an assistant director for Legislative Affairs, went down the ticket breaking down the ballot items into more understandable and relatable terms, attendants fielded questions about hot topic issues regarding the amendments and referenda that most directly affect the college population.

Amendment 48, which defines the term “person” in the Colorado Constitution, elicited the greatest audience response and sparked a variety of questions about the political and social effects of the amendment if passed.

Israel Garcia, the Colorado field director for the U.S. Student Organization, said the state would set “legal precedence” as the first state to define the term “person,” and that the initiative has the potential to change a multitude of policies.

“Amendment 48 is a huge one for me; it’s such a big deal because it will affect so many more ways of life than the definition,” said Mayleen Brown, a junior human development and family studies major.

Attendants said they were interested about the effects of Amendment 50 and halted the class to ask for clarification. It was determined in the class that the amendment will allow Colorado casinos to extend service hours and increase the maximum bet up to $100, which would generate extra tax revenue and redirect it into funds for student financial aid for higher education.

Along with sheets that broke down everything to appear on the Colorado ballot this year, ASCSU said they prepared voting cheat sheets that listed all of the candidates, judiciary members and ballot measures to help students to organize their electoral decisions and make the voting process faster and more organized. And while some students said they will not leave home without their cheat sheets, others said that they will know exactly where they stand on every issue and candidate by the time they hit the polls.

“It’s important to continue to educate yourself and reach a better understanding of what’s going on in the election,” said Alexis Patterson, a senior Spanish and international studies double major. “I’m going to do early voting to beat the rush, but I’m not taking a cheat sheet because I’ll be set on what I’m voting when I get there.”

Brown said that this is the first election she has taken an active interest in.

“I’ve never really been too concerned with politics growing up,” Brown said. “Especially with the economy, and especially after the last presidential vote was so close, I realized that I wanted to have knowledge to back up my decisions.”

Borgen said if the demand is high enough, the department decided that it would teach more of the ballot classes as requested until the election in order to reach the greatest number of people.

Senior Reporter Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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