Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Accident as a Metaphor

On Monday, December 19th, I went down to the Colorado State Capital to witness the Electoral College vote as a reporter for My wife, Gaye, my friend, Tony, and I went down on the light rail to beat the traffic and avoid the exorbitant cost of parking.  It was late afternoon on the drive back from Lincoln Station.  

By the time we made it to Elizabeth, the sun was going down.  It was frigid cold as we headed south on County Rd. 17-21 south.  When we got to the intersection of County Rd. 102 and 17-21, we came upon an accident that just happened.  To say that the scene was surreal would be an understatement.  It was absolutely still and before us were two totally destroyed vehicles with no signs of life.

Oddly enough, when we were going up the hill from where County Rd. 106 crosses 17-21 a couple of cars passed us heading north.  They blinked their lights and we shared amongst ourselves that it was probably a deer or a police vehicle up ahead.  Of course it was not.  They had just seen the accident and did not stop.  To their credit they at least alerted us that something was there to watch out for.  

When we saw the scene @ CR 17/21 and CR 102 we stopped and jumped into action.  There was never the slightest hesitation on our parts.  This had just happened and we all assumed that someone was probably severely injured or dead.  It was just that gruesome.  A huge grain truck had t-boned a small pickup and essentially cut it in two.  The large grain truck had rolled onto its side (driver’s side facing skyward) and was rapidly leaking fuel.  Tony ran to the pickup, Gaye started calling 911, and I headed for the semi. The next fifteen minutes will be indelibly etched in our minds for the rest of our lives.  That is about the time it took before Elbert County rescue workers on the scene. Considering everything, that was a very good response time and we were extremely thankful to see them all arrive.

The purpose of this blog is not to extol our actions at the scene of a devastating traffic accident.  Am I proud of my wife, my friend and myself?  Damned straight I am.  When it was all over, we had not only treated all three of the people for their injuries to one extent or the other, but we had made the emergency call to get professional help.  While we were first on the scene, we were not the only ones who eventually stopped.  Perhaps because others motorists saw regular citizens providing aid it gave them permission to join us. One retired gentleman, (who I would love to meet again just to shake his hand) had paramedic experience and he jumped right in with us.  Before it was all over, there were four or five of us covered with the blood of the accident victims. 

In today's world, our actions might be labeled cavalier, but in hindsight, everyone of us took that risk for our own personal reasons. Of course the professionals come prepared and had the necessary protection. For Gaye, Tony and me, who discussed it after we headed home to clean up, it was just this simple: none of us were willing to  stand by and let a young man drown in his own blood from broken ribs and a collapsed lung or let the truck driver wander aimlessly, clueless in shock, and half-blinded by blood, across the meadow.  Those three victims needed help and we felt, we knew,  it was the right thing to do.
There may have been twenty people at the accident site before we left working in concert with one another to help the victims, whom they may or may have not known, survive a tragedy. Everyone there, with the exception of the EC sheriffs, were volunteers, and even some of the sheriffs were off- duty.  Not once was anyone heard to ask if the victims were Catholics, Jews or atheists.  Nobody checked to see if anybody who was providing assistance voted for Clinton, for Trump or Calvin Coolidge for that matter. Nobody cared at that moment whether they were members of the NRA or 

The reason that nobody asked such questions at that crucial moment was because nobody was being controlled by the media, a political group, a lobbyist or anyone else for that matter.  For that brief period of time this group of people had a common purpose.  We sat aside any differences that may have otherwise divided us for the common purpose of helping three injured people at the side of the road in crucial, life-threatening  conditions that we may have never even known existed some fifteen minutes earlier.  We were being humans first...and pawns in a game second.

The sooner this nation comes to its senses and stops letting divisive forces keep us from our true values, the better we will all be.  Let this accident serve as a metaphor.  All that should really matter is that we treat our neighbors as we would want to be treated.  Be empathetic in the moment and trust your moral compass when the need arises.  In my opinion, we will all be better for trusting in the goodness of the human heart.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

I’ll Take "Questions that are answered, 'Hell Yes!' for $500, Alex."

I’ll Take "Questions that are answered, 'Hell Yes!' for $500, Alex." 

Is the Pope Catholic? Do bears crap in the woods? Did Vladimir Putin’s interference in the 2016 general election tip the scales for Donald Trump? 

About 70,000 votes in three key states sent Donald Trump to Washington.  Hillary conceded even knowing that she had significantly beaten Trump in the popular vote.  That is the way it works, because the popular vote does not win the United States presidential election.  The Electoral College picks our President.  Mr. Trump got 306 electoral votes and broke the threshold of 270 needed to win the prize.  End of story? No, just the beginning, actually.

The United States C.I.A. has determined beyond a shadow of a doubt that Vladimir Putin, in combination with state-sponsored hackers and Wikileaks, conspired to insert themselves into our election in an attempt to get Donald Trump elected president.  Our president-elect says that that is deceptive and untrue.  Nothing could have swayed his landslide victory!  

Trump is a real estate tycoon with no credentials in US or foreign intelligence.  He does not even want to be annoyed with pesky intelligence briefings, and yet he says with certainty that the C.I.A. is full of bogus information.  What kind of ego-driven man takes his own hunches as gospel over the entire intelligence agency of the most powerful country in the world?

So let’s cut to the chase and look at why I believe that the election was handed to Trump by Putin:  

•128 million people voted in  this election;
•Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a little over 2% or roughly 2,800,000 votes;  
•HRC lost the electoral college vote based on a victory margin of 70,000;  
•If you divide that number (70,000) by 128,000,000,  that means that the margin of victory was by a mere .054 of 1% of the population;
•If distributed with a slight modification of 1/500 of 1% it would have meant Hillary Clinton would have won the presidency.  

Granted, it was a larger margin than that in the three swing states Clinton needed to beat Trump, but it is ludicrous to say that the Russian government, traditionally viewed as our archenemy, spent all that time, money and human resources, to garner only a tiny fraction of 1% of our total voting population for the guy they wanted to win.  No, they went in as hard as they could and swung for the fences.  They knew that tarnishing Hillary Clinton with false information and fake news to, among others, partisan players at the FBI, would stir up trouble and further divide the Democrats, some of whom thought Bernie Sanders should have won the nomination.  And it worked

Trump has not been shy about trying to butter up the ties between the Russians and the USA.  He relentlessly went after Clinton on the emails that never materialized and he even called upon the Russians in public to search for them!  It was reported early on in the campaign that Trump had a relationship with Putin...and then he denied it.  Of course there are the verifiable details that Trump has selected his cabinet members who have deeply troubling financial ties to Russian oil. There are a plethora of remarks on the record of Trump praising the leadership of Putin.  He has even gone on the record as saying that Putin is a better leader than his own President, Barack Obama.  There was a time, presumably back in the days to which Donald Trump wishes us to return, that a remark like that would be regarded as treasonous. Suffice it to say, while Trump extolls the virtues of this dangerous world leader, millions of people around the world have felt the Russian lash.
These are dangerous times in which we live.  Putin has involved himself in Russia's oil production in such a manner that by some estimates, Putin’s personal wealth is now at $85 billion.  He is not even trying to hide any of this.  This is the man Trump views as a strong world leader worthy of praise.  

Putin’s critics, the band  Pussy Riot, went to jail for three years for being critical of their praiseworthy leader.  How many of you reading this would have enjoyed watching Obama jail those who questioned his birthplace or calling his family members monkeys?  The precedent (or "president," if you spell like our president-elect in his Tweets) of embracing the values of Vladimir Putin, the man who our entire intelligence community say personally directed an attack on our recent presidential race, is frighteningly misguided. 

So Alex, “HELL YES!” Vlad helped the candidate he wanted to become president to win the prize and no, I did not put that in the form of a question.  You know why, Alex? Because diluting American values downward toward the values of a Russian despot is not a game I wish to play. 

Mr. Baca Teaches a Lesson on Courage

On Monday, December 19th, I went down to the State Capital today to watch the nine electors for the State of Colorado cast their votes for for the US President.  Before it was over nine votes were cast for Hillary Clinton, but it was not without some drama.  You see, before the proceedings even took place, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams had stated that if any of the electors broke rank and decided to vote for a candidate other than HRC, they would be dismissed and replaced with someone who would. He even went so far as to draft a new oath for the proceedings to highlight the fact that if they did not vote for the person who won the popular vote that the person would be committing perjury.

Let that information sink in for a moment:  Williams, a Republican, interceded on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton, who has not contested her loss, would have opposed the actions of SOS Williams even though it meant she would have received one less electoral vote.  

And then, up stepped a true American patriot. One brave, twenty-four year old, former  Marine Micheal Baca, stood his ground to defend his right to vote his conscience and proceeded to vote for Governor John Kasich. This was the first time that had happened in Colorado history.  Baca became the first electoral college voter to cast his ballot for someone other than for the winner of Colorado’s  U.S. Presidential contest. 

Despite his stand, Mr. Baca was admonished by Secretary of State Williams who then dismissed him as an elector and called for a replacement.  Almost as if it were planned (It was, by the way.), a volunteer, Celeste Landry, stepped up and was sworn in by Colorado Supreme Court Justice Nancy Rice. Williams did this as the huge crowd of citizen witnesses, (almost all of whom were Democrats who voted for Clinton), loudly demanded that he (Williams) either resign or face recall. 

Unless you understand the insider politics of the Electoral College, this all probably seems a bit odd.  What Mr. Baca was trying to do was to reinstate the notion that electors could remain unbound and vote for whomever they chose.  That was the way the Founding Fathers believed that the American people could keep a despot from stealing the office of the President.  When Colorado, or any state, binds its Electoral College delegates to vote in lock step with the popular vote of the state, it reduces the meaningfulness of the Electoral College vote to a useless charade.  Why even have the vote at all  if voters can only choose what has been chosen already?  This makes no sense whatsoever. And, if that is the case, why not scrap the thing all together? 

We have just witnessed an election where the loser won the popular vote by nearly a 3% margin.  I get it.  Hillary did not garner the electoral tally of 270 votes, and so she lost.  I am not saying give it to her, nor were the hundreds of people in attendance at the Capitol yesterday.  We all knew about the electoral threshold going in and HRC did not clear the mark.  

But what purpose does the Electoral College serve if we continue to strip electors of their choice to pick whomever they wish to become President of the United Stated? The Electoral College has become a tool for political strategists to undermine the popular vote…period. The will of the majority be damned.  Just find the right path to electoral votes and you do not even have to win the popular vote.  Lock the electors into having to vote "winner takes all" and it makes this a sure thing that cannot be challenged.  

I leave you with this final thought:  If we are going to continue to use this adulterated system of electing our United States President that has long strayed from its origins, can we at least make it entertaining?  What about dressing the electors in lavish costumes and have them sing outlandish show tunes during the ceremony.  At least we would be entertained once every four years.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

This is the Dawning of the Age of Nefarious

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Elbert County Christmas Carol Development Style.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

C'mon Bob! Give it a rest.

It was my unfortunate luck to wake up this morning and see another long diatribe sent out by Robert Rowland.  Just when I thought we had heard the last from this misinformed master of hyperbole, he sticks his head up out of the brackish green waters of his pond and croaks another loathsome song about the evils of his arch nemesis, Jill Duvall. 

Rowland is incapable of understanding why people listen to anybody other than himself. He does not understand that he is the reason people look to citizens like Jill for information.  Every possible malady in this county is attributed by Commissioner Rowland to a leftist agenda from a party which has not had an elected commissioner in office since Bob Hall.  People who were not even born when Mr. Hall was in office just voted in the last election.  

Your party has had a couple of decades to get this growth issue well in hand, Mr. Rowland.  We just voted in the next four years of Republican leadership, Bob.  When are you going to realize that political parties do not make positive change?  Leaders make positive change.  Following your logic, we should be looking at Weld County in the rear view mirror as we put our pedal to the metal to pass Douglas County.  Face it, Mr. Rowland, your legacy in this county's history is that you will go down as the guy who accomplished little except bringing the term "ethics violations" to the forefront of Elbert County vernacular.

I have been deeply involved in the movement to make people aware of water issues since well before I moved to Elbert County nearly twenty years ago.  Gaye and I have tried to help people understand how clean water aquifers work.  We have helped hundreds of people gain control of their water rights by showing them how to adjudicate them.  We do not always agree with the reasons people choose to adjudicate their water rights, but we understand that the more people become involved, the longer this finite resource will be around in the future. Ours is not an agenda of no growth. Growth is inevitable. Ours is an agenda of smart growth that allows a voice to everyone because the rooftops are coming.

 Almost everyone in this county is dependent upon groundwater.  That is truth.  Anything that puts our groundwater in jeopardy or adversely impacts it is going to be scrutinized by those who wish to live here.  That is not hyperbole. There is no political affiliation when it comes to the need for water to survive.  

If Mr. Rowland believes that Jill Duvall is being asked just to speak to groups of predominantly "leftist Democratic" property owners, then he is delusional.  Drive County Road 158, Mr. Rowland.  Look at the multitude of signs opposing the  Independence development.  See how many people are flying a Gadsden flag to which you so proudly cling as a Tea Party advocate.  See how many Trump signs are still remaining in yards. I dare say I did not see a single HRC sign. 

People do not care about your unfounded fear of Jill Duvall. She is strong enough to stand toe to toe and fight for what she believes, and believe me when I say it comes with a hefty price tag of abusive commentary from the likes of you and your minions.

We have had an election.  To nobody's surprise, the Democrats got trounced here in the county.  Will it be more of the same?  Will it be a time of prosperity?  If the new EC commissioners listen to their constituents and explore development with respectful caution, then we may be on our way out of the ditch.  If they just listen to the developers and ignore the property owners who have legitimate concerns about water, traffic, and the knowledge that growth does not always fill empty coffers, then we may be in for four more years of blaming Jill Duvall for everything.  At least we won't have Mr. Rowland preaching from a commissioner's office about his virtuous tenure as a successful elected it has to be a little bit better, right?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Elbert County Planning Commission or Sponge Bob... for which would you swear an oath?

Several people wanted me back on the Elbert County Citizens page. One even went so far as to add me back without me knowing it. I guess I did not realize that was possible, but hey, you live and you learn. This was my first post upon my return to the page and so I decided  I would  get off on the wrong foot for my opening salvo. 

Two things need to be said this morning. Number one, and I suggest you check me out on this with the State of Colorado, the Planning Commission is not a courtroom and its members have no right to hold a "swearing in" procedure. They are merely a group of citizens who give advice to the commissioners on planning and development. I swore an oath as an elections official because I handled sensitive information. I had a background check done to insure I was not a criminal. All of that was perfectly acceptable and necessary. Nobody should agree to anything that gives the false impression that a body has more power than it does. If I ever attend another Planning Commission meeting, I will swear into their meeting when they agree to pledge allegiance to Sponge Bob Square Pants. The second thing is that the Planning Commissioners do not own the truth. They own their own perception of the truth. To suggest that the "Speculative opinions and general expressions of fear of potential increases in crime, traffic, or impacts on property values do not constitute competent evidence" is to suggest that their unprofessional opinions are the law. People have every right to speak their hearts. They, after all, are the reason we have representation in government not vice versa. They have every obligation to listen to the people even if it runs counter to their preconceived notions. This is an insult and a travesty. The new commissioners need to stop this run away train before it goes another mile. Remember, there is no political affiliation when people stand up to protect their homes. I do not know who decided that this was a good idea, but it needs to be eliminated before the county finds itself in yet another newsworthy scandal that leads to unnecessary litigation of which it is certain the PC (and thereby Elbert County) will lose.  Haven't we learned anything?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A few thoughts on the 2016 Election

It is never easy to lose.  Some losses are more traumatic than others and in the case of this most recent general election some people are grieving in a manner that is consistent with the death of a close family member.  It is with that fact in mind that I ask that all of my friends on either side of the political aisle remember that it is never okay to harass or belittle a person who is in a state of grief.  You would not tell a person whose brother just died to "Suck it up." Nobody would condone people making fun of a person who just lost a family pet or a close friend.  But that is exactly what is transpiring all over this nation of ours.  There is nothing good that can become of this callous behavior.  It needs to stop.

There are those who want to be congratulated upon their successes.  They fought hard and they won.  It is understandable and it reasonable for those who have campaigned and prevailed to want acknowledgement for their efforts.  To those people I say with no reservation, "Congratulations."   The people have spoken and you deserve your chance to fulfill your campaign promises of clear and transparent leadership.  To those who lost,  I wish to thank you for your participation in democracy.  It was designed and always meant to be a system where opposition is not only expected but necessary and you have brought that balance to the table.

We reside in rural America.  This election was handed to the Trump Campaign by our demographic. While pollsters and media types were busily monitoring the temperature of urban America and completely ignoring the significant number of citizens living in places like Elbert County,  Mr. Trump courted us.  Rural America, a group who is often marginalized or completely ignored, stepped into the ring and delivered the telling blow and almost nobody saw it coming on the left.

Elbert County voted in unprecedented numbers.  I worked to help officiate this campaign as I have for so many elections in the past.  This new system of voting in Colorado helped to bring this election home for the Republicans.  It is almost impossible to corrupt the vote count despite campaign rhetoric to the opposite.  It allows for reactivation of those who have become inactive at the polls.  It also provides for immediate registration for new voters just before they cast their ballots.  Elbert County sent out over 17,000 ballots to eligible voters this election cycle, yet far in excess of 18,000 are now eligible to vote after election day.  That speaks volumes about the power of being able to motivate people to join the system and not suppress the participation.  Many people do not trust government to fairly adjudicate elections, but here in Colorado they have just proven that the system works.

I wish all of our local politician the very best in their upcoming terms of service.  I hope that they do not fall into the trap of believing that there is such a thing as a political mandate.  While the results were absolutely conclusive in the local election, the lines between Republican and Democratic viewpoints blurred here in the county over high density development, water and the use of public funds.  Voters, many of whom were angry, voted a straight ticket.  That skews the impact of local issues and it will serve our newly elected commissioners well to remember that water is lifeblood and all of our local issues of any import whatsoever ultimately return to this fact.  If any commissioner is foolish enough to not heed this warning and moves capriciously to sell water from this county, the backlash will be from citizens across the political spectrum and not just from the Democrats.  Water is not just for donkeys, it is important to elephants as well. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Security at the Polls

I want to take a moment and go on the public record:

I am working as a volunteer in Elbert County on the 2016 General Election.  I have always believed that helping with elections is my civic duty. To me, there is nothing more important than to protect the integrity of our elections.  Each election cycle I am honored to take the oath as an election official  to do my job honestly and without bias. I feel privileged to work next to friends whom I know to hold opposing political viewpoints than my own.  I applaud each and every citizen who is dedicated to this, the American way.

I am certain that the election process in Elbert County is being run fairly and that there is no reason to fear for the validity of this upcoming election.  Elbert County Clerk and Recorder Dallas Schroeder and Election Manager Rhonda Braun have, to the best of my knowledge, provided the time and resources necessary for a fair election and have provided a bipartisan environment that will meet the stringent requirements put upon the county by the Secretary of State’s Office for the State of Colorado.

That said, I want to point out that the 2016 election is probably one of the most contentious in modern times.  This election, poll watchers, registered and trained by the state, will be at the polls to observe this process in unprecedented numbers.  They will be required to follow strict guidelines and will be doing a very important job this election cycle.  They will be helping us to maintain faith in the American electoral process.  As I have pointed out in a previous article, it is not likely but it is possible, due to the heated nature of our presidential contest, for the polling places to experience turmoil.  There have been articles both in print and played on television in regards to these concerns and I believe you, the reader, have seen them, too. 

This year both of the two major political parties in Colorado have expressed concerns that the full service voter centers where people are working must have adequate security in place in the off-chance that something might go wrong. I brought these concerns to both Dallas Schroeder and Rhonda Braun.  I did this only after speaking to several other judges who had questions as to the safety of the volunteer poll workers.  To their credit, our election officials addressed these concerns and asked Sheriff Shayne Heap to provide at least two  deputies on election day to cover the two remote Voter Service Centers.  It was reported to me that the request was denied due to budgetary constraints.

Mr. Schroeder has no way to compel the Sheriff’s Office to provide security, but it was discussed that members of the Elbert County Sheriff’s Posse would be asked to come to these sights to help poll watchers feel more secure.  While I have great respect for these volunteers, from a legal standpoint, I do not believe these citizens can do much more than give verbal admonishment to a potential disrupter and then call the Sheriff’s Office for backup. Sheriff Heap did say that their officers would stop by and check in with the poll workers. It is my fervent hope that this will be sufficient coverage.

It has been a long standing tradition here in Elbert County that at community gatherings, especially where a contentious issue is being addressed, that uniformed law enforcement officers are in attendance for purposes of security.  I do not know why this election does not break the threshold of the need for security or if it is purely a budgetary situation that makes it impossible, but the issue has been discussed. Perhaps, in defense of the Sheriff’s Office, their opinion is consistent with law enforcement offices in both Pueblo and Colorado Springs as is shown in the following televised clip. The inclusion of the Sheriff’s Office was not part of the Elbert County election training as was the case in Pueblo and the Springs and that may be something to discuss for future elections.

I do feel it is important to go on record as saying that the request for security was made.  I believe that it would be terrible if any harm occurs to any volunteer or voter in Elbert County because of a lack of security.  I believe that it needed to be pointed out that this was a topic that was raised before voting ever commenced in this general election so that the issue can be addressed for future election cycles. This is my opinion alone and not meant to reflect any official position of the Elbert Democratic Party.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Zombie Apocalypse, Poll Watching and Voter Fraud

Despite a recent televised report that dead people were voting in Colorado, our state is actually recognized as having one of the most secure voting systems in the United States.  So how did this report of political activism within the community of the dearly departed occur?  It is really very simple, and almost every case can be attributed to several fairly innocuous causes which will be outlined later in this blog entry. Of course there are those few actual cases where fraud has occurred and nobody, including this author, should ever turn a blind eye to fraudulent voting.  Voter fraud is a serious crime, and anyone caught doing it should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  However, the zombie election apocalypse is not upon us, and once you see the steps that are taken to preserve the integrity of the vote in the Centennial State, I believe you will feel less inclined to worry.

I have worked as an election official in one capacity or the other in almost every one of the elections in Elbert County for well over a decade.  The one exception was the time that I ran for District 3 County Commissioner, and even that year, 2008, I had to be very aware of election laws and procedures so that I did not violate any campaign laws in the state.  Every year, Colorado has moved steadily toward elections that insure that the most people possible will find it easy to register, that the vote is convenient, and that every vote will count.  There is also every step taken along the way to insure that the election team is comprised of a balance of the two major political parties and that every person on the team not only takes an oath to follow the rules but also passes a criminal background check every year.

These three items are very important:  First is that Colorado permits online voter registration. It is very easy to do and the Secretary of State’s web site is simple to navigate. You'll need a Colorado State Driver’s License or ID card issued by the Department of Revenue to register online at Secondly, Colorado is one of only three states utilizing a vote-by-mail system for all elections. And finally, if you decide you would rather vote in person, voters in Colorado are required to present a valid form of identification at the polls.  There are a lot of people out there who are working under the misconception that Colorado requires no valid form of identification to vote, but the opposite is true.  In a state where the voter rolls are comprised of properly identified and eligible citizens, it is unlikely that an unscrupulous  person could obtain a valid ballot, and even if he did, a long list of steps that scrutinizes each and every ballot cast is the next stop on the journey to having a vote count...and that invalid ballot would be caught.

Elbert County’s election office has been working on this year’s election since the beginning of the year.  In order for you to get your ballot, the rolls are checked to see if you reside here,  to see that you are an active voter and eligible to receive a ballot… oh, and alive!  Normally when you die, either the family or someone who moves into the deceased person’s vacated home will send the ballot in and mark that the person has passed away.  Those ballots are returned to the election office and those names are removed on the voter rolls.  If there is a family member living in the home that has the same name as the recently departed and they vote the wrong ballot by mistake, sometimes this gives the false appearance that we have a case of voter fraud.  That is the situation that occurred  most often in the investigation into Colorado having "dead voters."

But the State of Colorado has identified a few cases of actual fraud.  In a few isolated cases, someone  received a ballot that belonged to a person who had recently passed away in addition to their own ballot.  They voted both ballots. This is easy enough to do at first blush.  They just faked a signature on the deceased person’s ballot and voted a second time.  That is a felony and easily discovered by the voting team at the county.  You see, every person who resides in the county does business with the county government.  On any occasion that you send in a legal paper, file a government form, obtain a license,  register to vote in the county or send in a ballot, your signature is photographed and put on file.  Every ballot that is cast in this or any election goes through a process called signature verification.  If you volunteer to work on the election, the state gives you training on signature verification. The signature on every ballot is checked against copies of your actual signature or signatures on file by two people (one from each of the two major political parties).  If the signature does not match, the voter is notified and told their vote will not count unless they come in and rectify the signature problem.  That is really hard to do when you are dead.

Lots of signatures do not get accepted.  Sometimes a signature changes due to injury or illness.  There is a provision by where a voter can vote their ballot and obtain a witness signature to solve that problem, but if there is no witness there will be no vote and the ballot is returned. Sometimes people just scribble something like they do at a credit card machine; we’ve all seen that.  If the verifiers can’t read it, the ballot will get kicked out and returned for correction.  Have you ever seen a zombie’s handwriting?  It ain’t pretty and they are always pretty upset when they are asked to come in to fix the problem.

There are common mistakes.  Lots of couples mistakenly vote their partner's ballot.  Again, it is common, but it is not fraudulent.  It is so common that the state allows signatures of a household to be batched together.  If the verifiers see the wrong name on a ballot, the first thing they check is to see if there are other voters in the household.  If there are other voters, the ballot is pulled until the other ballots from the household show up and it can be shown there is another person who made the same mistake.  Problem solved!  

There is one caveat that is worth mentioning here:  Sometimes a parent or spouse sees that a household member did not sign their ballot and they think it is okay to sign for the family member whose signature is missing.  Do not do that.  You will almost certainly be called in to explain the situation because the verifiers will catch it.  That is right on the edge of fraud even though the intent was benign and it can be very embarrassing.  In defense of the zombies living (more accurately non-living) in the county...they almost never make this mistake unless a family crypt is involved.

Why did I write this piece on voting you might ask.  It is simple, really.  In this arguably the most contentious election of my lifetime, there has been lots of talk about voting being rigged.  There have been calls from candidates to not trust the election officials and requests to turn out in large numbers to watch these untrustworthy poll workers so they won’t commit crimes against the candidates.  Well, if you do decide that is what you must do to protect the integrity of the vote, Colorado has made provisions for you to do just that.  We have one of the most open systems in the country, but you do have to sign up and get permission.  

If this is your cup of tea, by all means contact the Elbert County Clerk and Recorders Office and sign up.  Be aware that while you will be given access to every station in the voting process, you will only have one designated person to whom you may make comments or ask questions.  This is done to help the poll workers stay focused on the exacting work in front of them. Signature verification does take concentration.  Be also aware this will be a long and possibly boring task, so wear comfortable shoes and consider bringing a thermos of coffee to stay awake. Don't plan on taking any phone calls while you are in the election area.  

With the dedicated bipartisan volunteers operating a voting system deemed to be one of the most secure in the nation, there will be little to do or say.  We are a friendly group, and if I might brag, easy on the eyes.  We welcome your participation, but cannot guarantee the entertainment factor...that is, unless the zombies show up to straighten up a signature issue.  Happy voting.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Elbert County Citizens’ Zone - The Bipartisan Meeting is Happening!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Elbert County Is Full of Good People

Sometimes, when you write a column with the odd title of “Mundus Vult Decipi, Ergo Decipiatur” the topics come easily.  After all, the average person, if they are being honest with themselves, do wish to be deceived.  We want to believe that nice guys finish first, that if we just work hard enough our ship will pull into port, or that if we just keep picking that combination of numbers that  include our pants size in high school combined with the date we first got kissed we will win the lottery.  Hope springs eternal.  But that is not always the case when you sit down at the keyboard and start to write a weekly blog and are trying to meet a deadline.  The well, is sometimes dry.  Tonight is just such a night.That said, there are plenty of things to be written that are important at this time of the year and so I will take this opportunity that has been presented to me in the form of writers block to indulge myself and hopefully do some good.

Elbert County, despite its reputation for political dysfunction, its lack of commerce, its abysmal lack of infrastructure, is a wonderful place to live.  I say this even though I have found myself at the heart of much turmoil over the years due to my penchant for citizen advocacy.  There are just some things that I feel must be defended.  That is the way I felt about the Super Slab. That is the way I feel about the groundwater.  That is the way I feel about volunteer firefighters,  That is especially true for my belief that public education is our best insurance for a sound future.  But to the point of this article, this county is a wonderful place to live because of its charitable people who give so much to the common good with little or no reward.

On several different occasions over the past few years, my family and myself included, have been stricken with illness.  My sister who lived in West Virginia came down with lung cancer a few years back.  The struggle which eventually took her life was lengthy and painful. One morning during her fight to recover she received a package from Gail Segreto of the Elizabeth Piecemakers. In it was a quilt to make her feel better during her days as she battled her illness.  It made a profound impact on my family that a group of ladies that had never met her and lived over a thousand miles away had taken the time to send her a handmade quilt.  Presumably, the Piecemakers came into the knowledge of her illness by reading about her struggle from some of the social media sites where I post my articles.  Since that time, I have myself experienced some debilitating injuries to my back. I, too, received a quilt during my convalescence.  To this day I cannot adequately express how much that this has meant to my family.  These are my neighbors.  We likely do not see eye to eye on political matters and to be certain, other than Gail, I do not know who the current quilters are, but they care about everyone and that makes me a fortunate individual because of where I live. They deserve recognition.  They deserve charitable contributions from their neighbors.  Give back.

There is a lady in the town of Elbert who epitomizes why Elbert County is such a wonderful place to live.  Her name is Jo Petit.  She runs a circus.  The circus is called Circus-YOUR-Way LLC. It is a youth training and employment organization and its sole purpose is to bring  local youth and seniors together. Yes, it is an LLC, but it would be a stretch to say that anyone is monetarily profiting from this. They do not. Jo trains local entertainers. She trains them to be performers but in reality she is teaching them the life skill of self confidence and physical exercise.  She helps promote community involvement, service and volunteer work right here in Elbert County.  The kids have something to do and they give back to their community.  They go to civic events, bring joy and engage senior citizens.  These kids stay out of trouble, they are learning to stand in front of a crowd and confidently, juggle, do acrobatics, dance and sing.  Can you do that?  Jo is doing a great service for our youth.  Give back.  Go see them when they perform and donate if you are so inclined!  They make Elbert County unique and special.

And finally there is our Elbert County Community Outreach store (ECCO). ECCO gives monies to those that are in need of emergency housing due to disasters.  They have helped people who have found themselves without the resources to have their proper medical needs met or who might find that they are in need food and clothing.  They help people learn how to find employment, balance household finances, and live a more productive life.  If you have ever found yourself down and out in Elbert County, chances are pretty good that you have used ECCO’s services.  They help families that foster children, women in domestic abuse situations and senior citizens in need of a hand.  Last year, when I helped a friend go through a devastating medical and financial crises, ECCO was there with me every step of the way.  This is truly an amazing organization that inspires and brings hope to hundreds of families in need.  And if that was not enough, they have the coolest store between Castle Rock and Limon for clothing, household goods and anything else you can imagine.  All the money raised goes to help Elbert County residents.  Go to their store, spend money, make a donation and above all, get to know these wonderful people.  Oh, by the way, you can donate household goods, clothing, tools, and working electronics if that suits your fancy.

So that’s it.  This is the beginning of the holiday season.  It is getting colder and people tend to have more emergencies this time of year.  Here in Elbert we have people who reach out and help.  They make Elbert County special in so many ways.  Please consider giving back.  Please think about volunteering to help with community outreach projects.  Please be generous with your time, your energy and your money so that Elbert can be the kind of place we all want to call “Home.”