Monday, November 06, 2006

How I'm Voting

Tomorrow is Election Day! Just today I found out where my polling place is and downloaded a sample ballot, and I've just finished marking it up.

I am basically a slightly-libertarian-leaning Democrat, sort of a Clinton Democrat if you will, and I take this voting stuff seriously. Here is how I made the decisions below.

For the national congressional races, I am voting Democratic. I think it's important that control of Congress pass from the Republicans at this time. (We don't have a Senate race here, so it's just the one House district.) For the major local races, I consulted the endorsements of the two major local papers (the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post). Where they agreed, I am following the endorsement. Where they differed, I read both endorsements and decided which was more credible. For the minor local races (where the papers had no endorsements), I consulted the web pages of each candidate and made my decision that way. For the referendums and other measures, I used the endorsements of the papers as described earlier except as noted below. For any issues or candidates for which the above methods did not yield an answer, I am abstaining.

My decisions are as follows.

U.S. Congressional District 110 - Rick O'Donnell (R) vs. Ed Perlmutter (D)
I am voting for Perlmutter along party lines.

Governor of Colorado - Bob Beauprez (R) vs. Bill Ritter Jr. (D)
I am voting for Bill Ritter. It looks like he's going to win. He seems like a much stronger candidate than Beauprez, who I have somewhat vague bad feelings about.

Secretary of State
I am voting for the Republican Mike Coffman against the Democrat Ken Gordon due to the text of the Denver Post's endorsement.

State Treasurer
Democrat Cary Kennedy received the endorsement of the Denver Post; I found their endorsement more convincing (especially given that I'm a Democrat) than the Rocky Mountain News's for Republican Mike Coffman.

Attorney General
Republican John Suthers received the endorsement of both papers.

Other Local Races
I'll mostly skip these, but for the benefit of any mythical local readers, note that I'm voting for Democrats Karen Middleton, Stephen Ludwig, Maryanne Moe Keller, and Linda Rockwell, Republicans Ramey Johnson and Dave Auburn, and abstaining in four other races.

Amendment 38
Amends the state Constitution in mysterious ways relating to initiative and referendum petitions. All or nearly all of the papers statewide came out against it. I am voting No.

Amendment 39
Amends the Constitution to require that at least 65% of school budgets are used for direct educational expenses. I am voting No. I haven't seen any convincing arguments about why this needs to be in the Constitution, even if it's a good idea, which I'm not sure about.

Amendment 40
Amends the Constitution to implement Term limits for state judges. I am voting No following the recommendations of the papers, which regard this as a move to further politicize the judiciary.

Amendment 41
Amends the Constitution to severely limit gift-giving by lobbyists to all state employees, and imposes a 2-year cooling-off period for retiring public officials. The major papers were split, and I read both positions. I was leaning towards voting yes on this, but given that I'm not sure it's a good idea, I think it's best to leave it alone. There is a good argument to be made that this is better left to legislation than to a Constitutional Amendment. I am voting No.

Amendment 42
This is a big one locally. It amends the Constitution to raise the Colorado minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.85, and mandates that the minimum wage continue to grow, indexed to inflation in the Denver/Boulder area. I am voting No on this. Although increasing the minimum wage always sounds like a good idea (given that it doesn't seem to cost me anything as a taxpayer, and I like for other people to make more money), there are several problems with this increase. Putting it in the Constitution makes it difficult to adjust if needed. Indexing wages to inflation risks increasing inflation. And indexing statewide wages to inflation in Denver/Boulder risks hurting areas that are experiencing slower growth. Also, increasing the minimum wage is not a very effective way of helping the poor, most of whom do not make minimum wage. (Many people who do make minimum wage are middle class teenagers.)

Amendment 43
Amends the Constitution to forbid gay marriage. I support gay marriage, so obviously I am voting No.

Amendment 44
Amends the state statutes to make possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana legal. (Right now you just get a fine anyway, and growing and selling it remain illegal.) Even though the papers are not endorsing this one, I'm voting Yes on general principles.

Referendum E
Exempts completely disabled veterans from paying property taxes. I guess I'm voting Yes. I don't feel very strongly about this one either way, but the estimated fiscal impact is low. It's not a great way to help disabled veterans given that the ones who own homes propably need the least help,

Referendum F
Something about recall provisions being updated. I'm voting Yes following the Post's endorsement.

Referendum G
Elimination of obsolete Constitutional provisions. Yes.

Referendum H
Exempts local businesses from tax exemptions for wages if they do not verify that their employees are not illegal aliens. The fiscal impact is expected to be minimal, and I don't really see the point of this. To the extent that I do, I'm basically in favor of immigration, and I plan to vote No even though the Post and Rocky Mt News are endorsing it. I'm sure it will pass anyway. (I am actually in favor of enforcing immigration laws, but I think this is best done at the border. I think suddenly making illegal aliens who already live here unable to work is foolish.)

Referendum I
Creates domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. I'm voting Yes. I really hope this one passes.

Referendum J
This is a "lite" version of Amendment 39. It wouldn't change anything since all schools already meet its requirements. I'm voting No.

Referendum K
Requires our Attorney General to sue the federal government for not enforcing immigration laws. I am voting No because this is a pointless waste of resources.

That's it. I welcome comments, of course, and I'll try to report back on how the election went afterwards.


sally said...

The one exempting fully disabled veterans from paying property taxes sounds pretty weird. But disabled veterans do get odd little benefits in the various states. I don't know what the property tax situation is in Texas, but Texas resident disabled veterans (not necessarily fully disabled) get free hunting and fishing licenses from TPWD, for example.

Anyway, I definitely am interested in seeing a follow up post on how these couple hundred proposed amendments did. I am very curious how the gay marriage/domestic partnership ones do; will Colorado be more liberal than Oregon on this issue? I would love to see it.

rvman said...

Colorado allows lobbyists to give gifts to state employees? I'm not allowed to take coffee at a meeting. (This is a PURA thing, not a state thing. State employees not in our agency can take small items like drinks and pencils, but not big stuff.) This thing bans handouts of greater than $50 value.

Texas gives a $5k to $12k exemption for veterans with disabilities. I don't know what that means, but that is what the Guv's site says.

Doug C said...

Re: Amendment 38...
There's nothing mysterious about it, for anyone who can read.
Do you always do what the newspapers tell you to do? Oh, yeah... I forgot. You're a democrat. Never mind.

Tam said...

Actually I rarely read newspapers, but I do think that for many positions in government, personal qualifications are more important than party affiliation, and I believe strongly in supporting legislation based on its effects, not on whether the intended purpose sounds good to me. That's why I consult newspapers for endorsements (which I do not always follow) - the folks who work for the newspaper are paid to research issues that I don't have time or motivation to fully research.

It's great to see a new commenter!