As some of you know, I have been actively involved in helping to administrate the elections process here in Elbert County for many years. From being an election watcher, to a poll volunteer, to an election judge, I have tried to do my part to help Elbert County have fair and accurate elections. I do this, knowing full good and well, that there isn't a snowball's chance in Tampa that someone from the Democrats of Elbert County will be elected. Yes, I am a Democrat. It is okay. Elections in Colorado require participation by paired teams of both Democrats and Republicans in order to fulfill election laws in the state.
For the last couple of election cycles here in Colorado, we have moved over to a mail-in ballot system. It is inevitable that when you change any kind of bureaucratic process in a state, especially one that involves an election, eyebrows will go up and trust levels will go down. It is human nature. The immediate question becomes, "What was wrong with the old way?" Like an old pair of boots, you just expect that when you put 'em on, they're incredibly comfortable, and that is the way your feet are supposed to feel. But what if I told you that those old clodhoppers that you have been sporting for so many years might actually not be as good for your feet as you always believed? Heresy you say! Maybe not.
Before we adopted the mail ballot system here in Colorado, our election integrity rating in Colorado was somewhere in the the middle of the fifty states. Today we are in the top ten for election integrity. For those of you who believe the election system is rigged and that the best candidates are getting cheated at the ballot box, think again. (I am not saying anything about how candidates get on the ticket or survive the selection process by the local political parties. That is just as big of a hot mess as it has always been on both sides of the political aisle.) All I am saying, is that if you are looking for a boogeyman in the election offices in your county, our county in particular, the chances here in Colorado are becoming very slim that a cabal of corrupt political pirates are flipping elections.
There is a tremendous amount of accountability in Colorado's election system. Every voter sends in a ballot with his signature. Every registered voter has a signature sample (or multiple signature samples) on file with the state. Every ballot signature is verified by a trained, bipartisan team for authenticity. If the signature does not cut the mustard, it is put through a system to get to the bottom of why that signature failed to pass. Without a verified signature, the vote won't count, but the ballot at that point undergoes a rigorous "procedure to correct" process. The voter is contacted and instructed on just how to remedy the situation. Every vote matters in this system. And while I cannot speak for every election office in every county in the Colorado, I can tell you with 100% certainty, the Elbert County Election Office takes pride in not only its efficiency, accuracy and adherence to state standards, but more importantly that when they complete an election, they know in their hearts that without bias every vote was treated equally. I believe that.
I will not go into the minutiae of every step of this system. Suffice it to say, it takes training from the state and you must pass coursework. Every year, all judges, election officers, judges, watchers, etc. undergo testing to stay up with the changes (if any) since the last election. It is important that, if you still have questions about the veracity of our current system, you go online to the Secretary of State's website and peruse the information provided to you on the topic of elections.
Furthermore, I would encourage you to consider taking the training to become an election watcher so that you can observe first hand, just how thorough our process is here in Colorado. Consider becoming involved with your political party's election team and volunteer to take the training and work an election. It will not only serve to reassure you about the integrity of the vote here in Colorado, but it will also leave you with a sense of community pride knowing that you performed an honest act of civic duty.
Why did I write this? Who does it serve? Let me be crystal clear on a couple of facts before I bring this to a close: It takes energy to complain about a voting system that is not corrupt. Do your homework and stop looking for the problems with our political maladies in the election office. If you do not trust this system, at least go to the state and learn how it actually works. Please do not spread baseless political falsehoods garnered from social media. As a retired educator I can tell you that intellectual curiosity that leads you to fact check these troubling notions will ultimately save you time and avoid ulcers.
Now take that energy you saved and put it toward becoming a positive force, involved in the political process. Pick a party, any party (kind of like a magic deck of cards), and be the person who helps to put candidates up for elections who will actually serve your needs. It is only important that they serve your needs and also your neighbor's needs. Stop picking candidates that only campaign on vanquishing the evils of their opponents. Tell them that you will hold them accountable! Mean it when you tell them they must deliver on their promises. Stop believing that those who hold opposing political views are evil.
Take an opposing party member out for coffee once in a while and talk about what would make your city or county a better place to raise a family. Let's come together as a community. If you love your country, remember that it is diversity that made us great, not divisiveness.