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Ballot Language Intends to Deceive Voters

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Ballot Language Intends to Deceive Voters

Those who follow politics in Colorado Springs remember the controversy during the 2010 election about deceptive ballot language.  This language was on the question of increasing the term limits of El Paso County Commissioners from two to three terms. But the ballot language used the phrase:

“Shall persons elected to the office of county commissioner be limited to three (3) consecutive terms, a modification of the current limits permitted by Article XVIII, Section 11 of the Colorado constitution?”

What voters want in ballot language is to be completely transparent as to what a ‘yes’ vote actually means.  In the case of the El Paso County Commissioners, if you didn’t already know they were limited to two terms, you would think that a ‘yes’ vote meant you were limiting their term further than where it currently was. Voters were so incensed, that the Commissioners were forced to place the question back on the ballot in 2012 with clear wording.

Now the ballots are out in the City of Colorado Springs and whoever was in charge of the wording did it again.  Issue 2 addresses a City Council Pay increase.  This was brought to the ballot by a slim City Council majority to raise the pay of City Council members from $6,250 to $48,000 per year.  Most voters, who are struggling in this economy, would not be in favor of increasing the pay of government employees by that margin.  In fact, a taxpayer advocate, Paul Kleinschmidt, believes, based on an informal poll his group conducted, that as many as 80% of voters would be against this increase.  Unless you have deceptive ballot language:

“Shall article XIII, section 13-20(B) of the Charter of the City of Colorado Springs, be amended to read:  All Councilmembers shall receive an annual stipend of $6,250 payable pursuant to ordinance; provided, however, that commencing May 1, 2015, all persons holding the office of Councilmember shall receive an annual salary equal to fifty percent (50%) of the Mayor’s salary as authorized in article XIII, section 13-20(A), above, payable pursuant to ordinance, in lieu of an annual stipend.  The City of Colorado Springs shall provide employee benefits to Councilmembers in the same manner as provided to full-time City employees?”

If you are just a normal voter, going through your life working and raising your family, do you know how much the Mayor makes?  Wouldn’t it have been more transparent to say “raise Councilmember pay from $6,250 to $48,000”?

I won’t get into why I believe a raise of their pay is a bad idea.  That isn’t the point.  The point is this language intends to deceive voters.  Colorado Springs residents were outraged about deceptive ballot language in 2010, and I urge them not to be fooled again.

This Post Has 6 Comments
  1. Great Article.. Loved it. They will not get my vote. Plain straight Forward language is what is needed. I am sick of this stuff.

  2. I would bet most voters reading this item will be too impatient to actually think this question through and decipher the intent. So there will be many “feel good” types that would decide that getting just half the Mayor’s salary is a fair deal.
    Ballots should be written to the 8th grade reading level, and in short simple sentences.

  3. Laura: Just saw you on Channel 13 News. Thank-you for making sense and representing both the conservative and a woman’s point of view; one that coincides with mine. Lately I have begun to feel like I am alone in my views but you have encouraged me to stand strong. Wow, common sense. We could use you in politics where that “virtue” is becoming extinct.

  4. I found this information very useful and it is good to learn people other than me conduct research for the purpose of conducting informed decisions. Each council member is a volunteers and were elected to their position; I suspect each were well aware of the compensation prior to becoming a candidate for that position. If a candidate was unsatisfied with the compensation package, why would they consider themselves for the position? The typical employment practice is to seek employment where the person and organization (compensation and benefits) are a good fit for each other. If the compensation was appropriate then, why should the public agree to such an enormous increase in compensation now?
    In general, city council members serve as a limited part of a city’s government structure while presiding over large and small bureaucracies who may include but are not limited to police officers, firefighters, and other city-government employees charged with serving the public’s interest. Based on my limited knowledge I am not convinced the city should assume the additional debt. I strongly suggest those who share the same concerns as I; in that whether or not the roles and responsibilities of council members warrant a salary of $48K, conduct some research to better understand the roles and responsibilities of council member. Additionally, I would like to know if these positions are full-time or part-time.

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