The Importance of Voting
August 21, 2017

DENVER – Denver and voters throughout the state will have a keen eye towards November 2018, and rightfully so. It is a crucial midterm election at both the national and local levels.

Colorado residents will be deciding on a new governor and nationally there will be an exerted effort to shift senate and house seats blue.

What seems to happen, far too regularly, is very low voter turnout in off years. According to Ballotpedia, voter turnout in off years in Colorado, on average, goes down about 10% for eligible voters.

That does not mean that what is on ballot isn’t important!

Off years are the years in which there isn’t a Presidential, Gubernatorial, Senate or House Representative race on ballot.

This becomes troubling because important issues such as: statewide teacher shortages, absentee voting rights, and district school board elections are typically some of the matters on ballot that go overlooked.

Issues like Colorado needing 1,000 new teachers just to reach national average, is a concern. The gerrymandering of important voting districts, statewide, is a concern. But voters limit their power and take away their right to be heard when turnout is low.

Each of these issues directly affect Colorado residents and are often more critically and immediately felt than some of the higher profile issues on ballot in other years.

This year, all Denver residents should pay close attention to the race for Denver Public School Board. The position to represent District 4 is highly coveted and is attracting a substantial amount of interest.

District 4 encompasses a very large segment of the city that stretches from the Whittier-Cole neighborhoods, past Park Hill and Stapleton, all the way out to Green Valley Ranch. All together the district serves more than 70,000 through 12 schools.

The school board position is a vital link between the largest most diverse community in the city and the district. School board members reflect the overall sentiment of the community and work for district policy improvements for students. If there are individuals in these positions not championing for students, it can become hazardous and worrisome.

But Colorado residents should take a stand and allow their voices to be heard at the ballot box!

Voting is as American as Apple Pie, the bald eagle, Ronald Regan, or racism. It is an institution. It is one that we as citizens both hold dear and take for granted.

There are many who fail to vote annually because they feel that “it doesn’t matter” or that their “voice won’t be heard.” Each of these reasons neglect the unprecedented struggles of our ancestors who sacrificed their lives for the right. Still too many Americans sadly take this democratic right for granted.

But sitting on the outside believing that, “it doesn’t matter” or that your “voice won’t be heard” will be intolerable this coming November and for election days for here to come! All you have to do is look back at the outcomes from 2016’s election night to tell you that sitting this one out will be unacceptable.

The CONSEQUENCES are REAL.

-Kris Colley | Education Specialist, Urban League of Metropolitan Denver