Everything you wanted to know about the Colorado 2020 General Election but were afraid to ask

Thursday, October 8, 2020


So. It's an election year. And this year is like no other, for a variety of reasons. 

As is my custom, I volunteered to act as an Election Judge for the election, and I've just finished my mandatory training from Douglas County on election rules, process, etc. Since so many people know I volunteer to do this, I end up getting a lot questions about it, and I want to answer them all. So here's my list of FAQs, which will be updated as additional questions come in. 

DISCLAIMER: The final arbiter of what's legal and what's not in Colorado is the Colorado Secretary of State, or if that fails, the Courts. Neither Douglas County nor the Secretary of State endorse this FAQ, and as such, I'll be providing links to the appropriate government offices as appropriate, in addition to my laywoman's perspective. I am not an election law attorney, nor do I play one on T.V. For complete details on election law and rules, see the Secretary of State's website. You can find everything you need to know there, from acceptable forms of ID, to sample ballots, to accessibility arrangements. 

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Q: Are there enough Election Judges to man polling places this year due to COVID-19? Are extra precautions being taken for the purpose of sanitation?

A: Yes. According to the election volunteer coordinator, Colorado residents volunteered in droves to be election judges this year, at the rate of about four applicants for every one position, and all election judges have been trained in the appropriate sanitation requirements. 

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Q:  Are Election Judges just picked willy-nilly?

A:  No. Election Judges must be screened, including a background investigation, before they can be sworn in. Additionally. Election Judges are selected based on experience and political affiliation. In Colorado, each polling place must have a balance between Republicans, Democrats, and Independent Judges. Ballot boxes are sealed by two individuals who cannot be of the same political affiliation, and the polling place must be manned at all times by at least two individuals who cannot be of the same affiliation. Ballots are moved from collection boxes to the election office in the same way. In the Navy, we called this "Two Person Integrity." You can identify your poll workers by the color of lanyard they wear. Red for Republican, Blue for Democrat, White for Independent, tan and teal for watchers/observers, and yellow for election staff. 

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Q:  Will I receive a ballot in the mail?

A:  Yes. If you are registered to vote in the State of Colorado, you will receive a ballot in the mail. Colorado sets the gold standard for mail-in voting, and every voter will receive a ballot in the mail by default. 

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Q:  What if my ballot doesn't arrive when my County says it should and I'm getting nervous?

A:  You can go to Go Vote Colorado and sign up for BallotTrax, or you can look it up by clicking the "Find my Registration" link. If the system shows that your ballot was supposedly delivered but it wasn't, you can call your local election office to find out how to get a replacement ballot. 

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Q:  With all the shenanigans surrounding the Post Office, I don't want to drop my ballot in the mail. Is there another way to make sure it gets to the election office on time?

A: Yes! Most election offices have ballot drop boxes throughout their county where you can drop off your ballot. These boxes are sealed and locked, and under 24 hour surveillance. They're emptied every day (sometimes several times a day, depending on how close to the election we are). And if all else fails, every polling place will have drop off boxes where you can put your ballot in the box. 

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Q:  What if I don't want to vote at home, but instead want to go to a polling place, vote in a booth, and put my paper ballot in a ballot box?

A:   You are absolutely able to do so - that's why we have Election Judges. Simply look for an open polling place in your County, and go there for early voting or on Election Day. But here's the rub: DO NOT MAIL THE BALLOT YOU RECEIVED IN THE MAIL AND THEN TRY TO GO VOTE IN PERSON. Seriously, don't. The District Attorney calls that "Voter Fraud," and you will be receiving a call from them later down the road. More on that later. 

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Q:  Will there be crowds at the polling place?

A:  Election authorities do in fact believe that polling places will be crowded on Election Day. This is the case for a variety of reasons, including COVID restrictions such as reduced polling locations and staff, fewer voting booths, limiting the number of voters inside the polling station, etc. If you want to vote in person, please plan accordingly, and know that as long as you’re in line by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day, you WILL be able to vote.

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Q: What if I don't want to wait?

A: Well, early voting is the shizzle! There will be polling places in Douglas County open from October 19-31, and again on November 2nd. Different polling places will be opening in phases 1, 2, and 3 here in Douglas County. Process and procedure will be the same whether you vote early or on Election Day, and we’ll even be open one Saturday (October 31st). If you need to find the schedules for your county, check your County Clerk’s election information page, or check the Colorado Go Vote page under "Manage my Registration."

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Q: Why are the Election Judges taking so long to move voters through the process?

A: Because both parties have communicated that lawsuits will be forthcoming post-election regardless of outcome, process will be strictly observed at every polling station. Please be patient with the election judges as they try to ensure everything is above-board for every voter. We’ll be doing the best we can, moving as fast as we can, and election judges are there to support the PROCESS, not a political party. All we care about is that EVERYONE gets a chance to vote, legally. So try to keep your temper with the volunteers. No one likes to be yelled at, especially when they’re trying to perform a public service.

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Q: What if I'm not registered and I still want to vote?

A: If you’re not registered to vote, you can register AND vote in the general election at any polling place up to and including on Election Day. Go you!

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Q: How do I know there won't be voter fraud?

A: Ah, the question of the hour. If you want to know how voter fraud is prevented here in Douglas County, you can start by watching an excellent video called "The Life of a Ballot" on the Douglas County Votes web page. However, I often get questions along the lines of "But how do you know if someone tries to vote twice?" The answer is both simple and complex.

Every ballot issued by the County Clerk has a bar code associated with it, and that bar code is associated with a Colorado Voter ID number. So when you get your ballot in the mail, that ballot is yours and yours alone to use. Once you fill it out and drop it off, it is scanned in at election headquarters (see the video linked above), and the scanning of that bar code makes a change in the Secretary of State's voter database showing that you (and your voter ID) have voted.

Which leaves a few scenarios:

  1. If you come to the polling place to vote after your original ballot is scanned in and your voter ID shows that you've already voted, you'll be informed that the County Clerk's office has already received a completed ballot for your voter ID. If you insist that the ballot was returned by someone other than you, you will be permitted to vote a provisional ballot, and when that ballot (also assigned to your voter ID) is put into the system, an investigation will be conducted to determine what actually happened. If election officials suspect that someone did in fact return your ballot without your consent, the matter is turned over to the District Attorney's office for action.
  2. If you come to the polling place before your drop off ballot is scanned in (say, during early voting), the Secretary of State's database will reflect that you have not voted. In that case, the election judge will have no way of knowing if you mailed it or not, and the ballot you cast in person will be the first and only ballot that is counted. When the mail ballot is received at election headquarters, an investigation is launched by the District Attorney to determine what happened, because turning in two ballots, whether you meant to or not, is voter fraud.
  3. If you vote in person at a polling place to cast your ballot and then on the way home drop your mail-in ballot at a collection box, again, the database will determine that you attempted to vote twice and an investigation will be launched.

And you want to know what makes all this work? The Secretary of State's software and associated database (called SCORE) is directly connected to every polling place in Colorado, on a secure connection, in real-time. So when an Election Judge prints out your in-person ballot for you, the change in your status from not voted to voted happens at once and is then reflected in every polling place, state-wide.

And the policy of the Election Office (at least in Douglas County) is to turn over every suspected case of voter fraud to the District Attorney. Every. Single. One. Because it's not the Election Office's job to determine intent and degree of illegality. It's the DA's.

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Q: Does the County Clerk expect there to be shenanigans at the polling places?

A: Not necessarily "expect," but all the Election Judges have been trained on what to do in case there are any:

  1. Activities such as poll watching and observers are being managed as they always have - coordinated between the political parties and the Secretary of State’s office. Watchers are pre-designated, and they will be obtaining a Certificate of Appointment and Oath of Watcher in order to be permitted in the polling place for this purpose. Observers are appointed by the Federal government or the Secretary of State. So folks who think they can just stroll in and make sure everything is being done “correctly” will be invited to leave, by law enforcement if necessary.  
  2. Electioneering within 100 feet will not be tolerated. So leave your political t-shirts, hats, buttons, etc. at home, and keep your political opinions to yourself while you’re in the polling place. Again, this is a bi-partisan law, and have been in place for many, many years. Nothing new here, just the enforcement of exiting rules and norms.

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Q: Does the Secretary of State anticipate violence at the polling places, and have contingency plans been made?

A: No, and yes.
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And lastly, make sure you VOTE, regardless of how and where you choose to do so. Now more than ever, exercising your franchise is probably one of the most important things you’ll do this year.

Maureen's Marchers, Walking the Good Walk

Sunday, September 27, 2020


Had the pandemic not occurred, today would have been the day our American Foundation for Suicide Prevention fundraising team, Maureen's Marchers, would have been at Coors Field for this annual event. But 2020 had other plans since it was evidently sent by Cthulhu to test American mettle. 

Yet, I still try to follow Mr. Rogers' advice, and look for the helpers. And nowhere are the helpers more evident than when our fundraising team seeks donations for suicide prevention. 

For the second year in a row, I am the number one fundraiser for the Denver Metro Walk (this year called an "Experience") on the day of the walk, and Maureen's Marchers is the the number one fundraising team by respectable margins. 




This year has been especially difficult since so many folks are out of work and have little to spare. Which makes the donations we did receive that much more meaningful. 

Thank you to ALL our donors, especially the anonymous donors who we are not able to thank directly. Your willingness to continue to support this cause means the world to us, as we try to turn this unimaginable tragedy into something worthwhile. Love to you all. 
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The donation pages will be active for a couple of months following the event, so if you choose to donate even after today, you can do so here


Stalky Stalking Stalkers

Monday, September 21, 2020

As many of you may know, this year was the first time in my life that I chose to donate money to political campaigns in support of the candidates I want to win. I haven't done it in the past for a variety of reasons, including:

  • I don't think "campaign contributions" belong in politics. I believe the government should provide a set amount of money to each candidate for the duration fo their campaign, and that should be it. No Citizen's United bullshit, no big money donors, no billionaire self-funded dipshits buying the election, no buying the candidate's ear. If they win, each candidate should have an equal obligation to every constituent in their area of responsibility, and no one should have to pay for that obligation through political contributions. I'm such a dreamer. 
  • I knew, I knew, that if I chose to donate in spite of my misgivings, the campaigns in question would become Stalky McStalkersons, inundating me constantly with requests for more money, in spite of the fact that I already know how much (and when) I'll be making additional donations to the campaigns I care about. 
But I believe this election cycle is the most important one of my lifetime, and I strongly feel the Republic is in jeopardy. So rather than tacitly agreeing to live in a Banana Republic where our fearless leader (or his whackadoodle son) wears a funny hat for the rest of my life, I sucked it up and made modest contributions to several candidates of my choice. 

Crap on a cracker, I was SO RIGHT. 

As an experiment, I started keeping track of how often the campaigns I contributed to contacted me to beg for more money. These statistics are from September 11 through September 18th, and for what should be obvious reasons (have you met me?) only include Democratic candidates. But there is no doubt in my military mind that the Republicans are doing exactly the same thing to their own donors. 

Amy McGrath9
Mark Kelly12
John Hickenlooper29
Biden/Harris29

As you can see, Hick and Biden/Harris campaigns are the Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner in the Stalky McStalkerson Sweepstakes, with a whopping 29 communications in just a seven day period.* For those who are math-challenged, that's a little over four communications a day, every day. 



And politicians wonder why people of good conscience don't want to donate to their campaigns. BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT REPRESENTATIVES OF ACTBLUE OR ACTRED OR WHATEVER PEERING IN THEIR WINDOWS AT NIGHT TO SEE WHEN YOU'LL DONATE AGAIN, THAT'S WHY.

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*Disclaimer: These values do not include phone calls, because I just don't answer calls from numbers that are not in my contact list. I also only received one SMS from each candidate because I opted out after the first ones, which to their credit, they respected. So the ACTUAL number of attempts would be far higher were this a scientific poll with a control group. Which it's not. 

The Notorious RBG

Saturday, September 19, 2020

 
Last night's news of RBG's death has affected me in so many ways. 

First and foremost, I grieve the death of this amazing woman, and for her family. She was just...amazing. She had a towering intellect and a tenaciousness that defied societal expectations of her time. Her will was without parallel, and she was the one of the first Social Justice Warriors, with all that implied. Someone to aspire to, who worked with compassion and dignity her entire life to make life better for those without her natural gifts and her privilege. 

An amazing legacy of a life well-lived. 

So of course the Republicans will do everything they can to fuck it up, which brings us to my next emotion. Pure, unadulterated, rage. 

Of course, Mitch McConnell decides to announce that tRump's nominee (whoever that will be, but probably not a woman, because Ladybrains are not fit to decide important matters) will in fact get a hearing and a vote in the Senate during the latter part of this election year. Of course. 

Of course, the nominee will almost certainly be a bootlicking conservative of the same ilk as Brett Cavanaugh. Because tRump learned his lesson with Justice Gorsuch, with whom I don't agree politically, but nevertheless is dedicated to the rule of law and is beholden to no one. Not so Cavanaugh, an ass-kissing sycophant and possible rapist. Yeehaw. 

Of course, the newly stacked court will probably overturn cases that benefit minorities and oppressed people, cases that RBG spent her entire life championing, because fuck poor people, the BIPOC communities, women and the LGBTQ community. Fuck them. 

I'm going to quote my buddy Eric here on the impending doom of the next Associate Justice selection, because he's so very eloquent and encapsulates my feelings perfectly:

Of course McConnell is going to allow a vote. The Garland thing was obvious bullshit. Calling him a hypocrite is meaningless--he doesn't care. He has no shame. He has no pride. He has nothing but a cynical, nihilistic desire to win and ethics, morals, and principles have nothing to do with it. He doesn't care.

And for all my loathing of the son of a bitch, the thing of it is that he's the scorpion who stings the frog, the thawed-out snake who bites the sweet old lady: he is what he is and that's all he is. It's the rest of the people who still identify as Republicans who are the problem at this point. Because, unlike McConnell, they think they care; they say they have principles and it's the other side who doesn't, even if these days the other side will (just for instance) shiv somebody like Al Franken and dump him over the side of the boat faster than you can say "decontextualuzed ratfucking" because we actually do mean what we say about things like #metoo however imperfectly we match words with deeds.

Don't fucking tell me you have principles, Republicans. You don't. Trump already proved it but Mitch is gonna double down on it. You don't actually give a runny shit about any principle except scoring and your only ethic is "owning the libs". I don't want to hear any more of your sad garbage, your whataboutism and your both sides and your but her emails and all the rest of it. Take your SCOTUS seat and whatever Federalist Society bootlicker the grifter nominates, and you better hope like hell you're wrong about what we do when we eventually win--because if we decide to start governing like you jagoffs instead of like people who really do care about what we believe, you're right fucked.

So say we all. 

And finally, I am scared-to-fucking-death. I fear for the Republic. I fear for my minority friends and family who will now be marginalized and persecuted even further. I fear for the norms and institutions that make America what it is, things such as civility (yes, I know that ship has sailed), honor (however little of it politicians possess), service to the public good, voting with intellectual rigor (another sailing ship), and concern for our fellow humans. Because the disregard of our laws and norms and lack of morality embodied by tRump and his lickspittle sycophants have a very real possibility of becoming what our country is about. And that's not okay.

This is some shameful shit

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

 

Prior to her death, our daughter Moe had a large circle of friends. People she knew from her various fandoms, from school, from the LGBTQ+ community. And three very special women she always referred to as "The Girls." 

She first got to know them because one of them was her father's girlfriend's daughter, and she always referred to Sarah as her sister. The other two, Be and Terra, were friends with Sarah. These girls have always had a special place in our hearts because of how much Moe-Moe loved them, and we've kept in touch over the years. 

Here comes the shameful shit. 

Now Terra requires surgery for a diagnosed medical condition and - surprise, surprise - her insurance won't pay for it. So she's trying to raise the money on her own, through sales of her art and other endeavors, and she's also created a GoFundMe page so folks can contribute to her surgery fund.* Of course we contributed, because as the Smart Man notes, "Anytime any of those girls or Linda need anything, the answer is always going to be yes." 

But how fucked up is it that a fully functional adult, who pays her own bills and helps support other family members, has to ask for money on GoFundMe to pay for a medically necessary procedure? Our medical system is nothing but a gouging, for profit, fucked up construct that cares not for patients, but only for the bottom line. Honestly, this makes me absolutely apoplectic with rage. To allow this level of corruption in what should be a guaranteed human right says so much about America's national character, and none of it is good. At all. So say we all. 

In any event, if anyone has a few extra bucks, I'd appreciate it if you'd give Terra and her family a hand. They're artists, and while they make ends meet with their Atomic Pixies business, there's nothing extra for emergencies or large expenses. 

Thanks, y'all. May the force be with you, and your life be filled with love and light. 


*She named the URL "Big Racks Break Backs," which should tell you all you need to know about her sense of humor. 


Things I don't understand - a non-comprehensive list

Friday, August 14, 2020


1. Why people like form fitting shirts when they exercise. Even with the moisture-wicking fabric, I find these garments to be intensely uncomfortable, because as soon as I start to sweat, they remind me of seaweed sticking to my skin after exiting the ocean. Ew. 

2. How people who claimed they "only" supported tRump because of the economy can now live with themselves as they come up with other excuses for supporting a bigoted, misogynistic, white supremacist megalomaniac who has overseen the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. You might want to cover up, you guys. Your cognitive dissonance is showing, not to mention your intellectual dishonesty.

3. People eating broccoli. The Devil's weed. It even smells disgusting. 🤢

4. Why people put their ego above desired outcomes, especially when the outcome is a monetary one in a business environment. 

5. The idea that property is more important than people. 

6. Why it always seems like every woman who seeks to break a glass ceiling ("coincidentally") has one or more fatal flaws. And the older the person, the more likely they are to say, "It's not that I don't want a woman in the White House. I just don't want this woman." And you can substitute this for basically any woman who is in serious contention. You can protest your innocence all you want, people - it's still transparent. 

7. Why people still don't seem to give a shit about climate change. It's going to affect the human race in some pretty draconian ways - why don't we care more? Of course, a good percentage of Americans don't give a crap that the November election is being subverted as we speak, and that has more immediate consequences, so forget I asked.

Helping Others to Help Themselves

Monday, August 3, 2020

The memorial plaque at our local library
The memorial plaque at our local library
July 31, 2013 was the worst day of my life. It was the worst day of my life because that was the day the Police Department came to our home to tell us that our precious daughter Moe had died of suicide at the age of 22.

Moe died of uncontrolled mental illness. She experienced severe depression, and was under a doctor's care for her condition. But we lost her anyway, leaving a Moe-shaped hole in my heart that nothing is able to fill.

Every day I mourn her loss in this world, and I would give everything to have her here with us again. But I can't do that, so instead I choose to perform service projects in her memory such as being a good ally to the LGBTQ+ community, and donating money to institutions she cared about, like our local library foundation.

And I also support AFSP's mission in helping people who are at risk overcome their lack of hope and help those who have been affected by suicide.

This is the fourth year I've been up to participating in this event personally, but this will be the seventh year the Maureen's Marchers team is hitting the road in my baby girl's name on the annual Out of the Darkness Denver Metro Experience. The money raised in this event will go to fighting suicide and supporting AFSP's goal to reduce the suicide rate 20% by 2025. This goal is especially challenging in our current situation, where people are feeling isolated, anxious and uncertain of what the future will bring.

The danger of suicide is especially high within the LGBTQ+ community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth aged 15 to 24 and the third leading cause of death among youth aged 10 to 14. Among youth who identify as sexual minorities, the likelihood of death by suicide has been estimated to be two to seven times greater than the likelihood of death by suicide among heterosexual youth. These kids need help, and it's up to us to provide it in any way we can.

Please help us honor our lost, beloved Moe-Moe and consider donating to the AFSP. All donations are 100% tax deductible and benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), funding research, education, advocacy, and support for those affected by suicide. The AFSP is a Charity Navigator 4 star charity, and they spend 83.6% of their total budget on program expenses.

You can donate to the AFSP by clicking on the donation badge on the right, or you can go directly to my fundraising page. This year I'm offering incentives for donations at the $50, $100, $200, and $500 range, including hand-knitted items in the colors of your choice to keep you warm this winter. 

"When you are sorrowful look again at your own heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight." ~ Khalil Gibron

Thank you for your support!