Officials raise concerns with TABOR book ballot measures in Denver and Douglas Counties

Election Day is just over two weeks away, and Coloradans are already filling out and turning in their ballots. Meanwhile, some people are raising concerns about the TABOR books meant to help them make informed voting choices.

Earlier this month, errors were found in Denver’s ballot booklet, including proofreading errors for ballot questions in the Spanish version of Ballot 2J and 2K, as well as omitted comments for Ballot 2I and Ordinance 307. The clerk’s office spent $191,000 sending out emails with the correct information.

Douglas County school leaders have, too pronounced about what they felt was misinformation in TABOR books sent to voters in the county.

In the arguments section, an opponent urges people to vote no while claiming that there is “woke ideological indoctrination” in the curriculum. Other arguments against the ballot measures incorrectly inflate the final cost to voters by saying they will increase with an upcoming reappraisal, the district superintendent said.

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“I just want it to be based on accurate information,” Superintendent Erin Kane told CBS News Colorado last week.

But Matt Crane, a former clerk and executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, said voters shouldn’t expect any changes to be made.

“An error in the way the book is put together is different in this case than someone putting something that is factually inaccurate in one of those ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ statements,” Crane said.

According to Crane, it all starts with state law, which requires voters to receive notice of any measure that could affect taxes.

The Colorado Legislative Council issues the state’s “blue books,” and the county clerk and registrar’s offices issue TABOR books, which include local ballot information.

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Each includes ballots, tax information, and arguments for and against each measure. But while the Legislative Council makes the arguments for the blue books, registered voters submit them to the county’s TABOR books.

“[The county clerks] take what’s submitted and then they put it into the TABOR notice,” Crane said. “As long as it meets certain guidelines like length, how long it has to be, no endorsements of any candidates, no foul language, nothing like, they will say it verbatim about what is submitted.”

According to Crane, a large part of that comes down to local offices lacking the staff and resources to check every single voter return that is submitted. In many other cases, clerks will avoid making these corrections to remain impartial.

“Anything done in a way that makes it look like they’re favoring one side or the other undermines public confidence in the election and we shouldn’t be calling balls and strikes like that,” Crane said.

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Some counties include warnings in their TABOR books, but ultimately fact-checking is up to voters. Crane called the books a valuable resource, but said they shouldn’t be the only one voters use.

“With all the misinformation and lies that permeate our election right now, I think there’s a heightened sense of inaccurate information, and I think that’s why we’re hearing from so many more people,” Crane said. “Go through them, read them, study them, and then don’t be afraid to do research elsewhere as well.”


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