Climate Action Team
The Climate Action Team (CAT) began this year with an enthusiastic group. There are numerous issues under this umbrella. The group wants to focus on what LWVBC can do locally and we examined all municipality and county websites on climate change and all are thorough on how to take action. We had an update on a compost facility for the county that was put on hold last year. A number of people attended the Eco-Cycle Cool Boulder virtual presentation on how individuals or neighborhoods can effect change through healthy soil and carbon sequestration using compost, luring pollinators into the yard with appropriate planting or training to become a community resource person. We supported several bills that are in front of the legislature and encouraged more action alerts on relevant bills. We will be looking into the fiscal costs of climate change and will be having a monthly environmental tip in the VOTER. All welcome to this very relevant subject.
Gun Safety Team
The League of Women Voters Boulder County created a new Action and Advocacy Team last year after the tragic shooting at the Table Mesa King Soopers. Since our group has formed, our mission has been to track and advocate gun safety legislation, evaluate gun safety and related legislation and recommend amendments as appropriate, promote gun safety awareness, and to underscore the connection between mental health and gun safety. We have a wonderful group of individuals who have been very active and involved with everything related to our mission. This year, the group supported HB22-1168, "Hunter Safety Education" and HB22-1086, "Vote Without Fear" and both bills were signed into law this legislative session by Governor Polis. Our team also requested the Boulder City Council to expedite adding several local gun safety ordinances they are considering to their council agenda. Councilwoman Nicole Speer is meeting with our team mid-May to discuss these gun safety ordinances so our team can understand them and add input as needed. Our team has also been studying the Extreme Risk Protection Order that was enacted in 2019 and presented a webinar in early May with Colorado Ceasefire to educate participants from around the state on the process of the Order and how it works. Colorado is also in the process of standing up a new Office of Gun Violence Prevention and our team is listed as a resource for Gun Safety. The Gun Safety Team is dedicated to our mission of promoting gun safety and we are getting involved in the community as much as we can. We look forward to having new members join us as we continue to make strides advocating gun safety in our communities and around the state.
Voting Methods Team
Submitted by Celeste Landry and Jeanne Clelland, co-leaders
Our team members are passionate educators of better voting methods. In particular, we find that many people are uninformed about the different forms of Ranked Choice Voting so we have widely dispersed the VOTER article entitled “What Is RCV Anyway?” The best-known form is instant-runoff voting (IRV) for single-winner contests that Boulder will begin using in 2023 to elect its mayor. Our FAQ for the 2021 Broomfield IRV ballot question provided useful and factual information, with voters subsequently adopting IRV. LWV of Larimer County is consulting with us as they work to get adoption of IRV on the ballot in Fort Collins. We provided feedback to the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) as they considered and adopted a non-RCV form of ranked voting, known as Borda Count, for their internal elections. We have given presentations on proportional representation and diverse representation. We convened a group of politically disparate thinkers which sent a letter to the Boulder City Council about electoral reforms, particularly proportional representation. At this summer’s LWVUS Convention to be held in Denver, LWVBC will be co-hosting two caucuses on voting methods – RCV in Municipal Elections and Improving Democracy by Working for Approval or STAR Voting. Please visit our revamped webpages at lwvbc.org > Teams at Work > Voting Methods for more information on better voting methods.
Our team continues to advocate for better reporting of election results particularly for multi-winner plurality elections, and we have come to realize that not reporting undervotes hides important information about the electorate’s engagement. Individual team members have been very active in some important voting-method-adjacent topics: LWVCO’s new Election Security Position, trying to reverse the unintentional impact of Amendment 76 (primary-election-disenfranchisement of 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the general election), and a new LWVBC study on Timing of Local and Special District Elections.
The schools team is reviving after a hiatus during the pandemic when schools went mostly online. We have been doing some fact-finding to ascertain the issues currently involving the schools. We recently learned that Boulder Valley School District may put a bond issue on the ballot this November to build another elementary school in Erie as Meadowlark K-8 is at capacity and more housing is being planned in its attendance area. One of our members is on the Capital Improvement Plan Review Committee. If this bond is placed on the ballot, our team will research it. Enrollment in other parts of the district is down from pre-pandemic levels.
Communications Team Report
LWVBC utilized multiple communication methods and tactics to share information about our mission, priorities, activities and opportunities for engagement in 2021-22. First, we published the VOTER newsletter every month except January and July, again using our Club Express platform for convenient and eye-catching access by League members and other community members and partners. Many League leaders each month volunteer to write-up and submit articles and action alerts, for which Voter Editor Jennifer Bales is thankful.
Our website stayed updated with a clean, clear look thanks to Webmaster Shelby Bates along with the Club Express team including Debby Vink, Rionda Osman-Jouchoux, Sylvia Bernstein and others. This is especially challenging with so much relevant information during election season and the diverse needs among our Teams. Social media sites, e.g. Facebook, also were a positive method of communication thanks to our 2021-22 intern, Erin Lindblom, our past Operations Director Mandy Nuku.
LWVBC again made good use of YouTube for Community Conversations on issues like voting methods and election security, and for our 2021 election candidate forums and ballot issue presentations. “Going virtual” was in many ways a positive development for League because it has enabled so many more people to partake in these events than when we only provided the opportunity in-person. Virtual events also more conveniently enable simultaneous Spanish interpretation, which increases access for our Latino community members. For the 2021-22 year, our election event viewership was:
- Candidate forums: Boulder City Council (443 views); Longmont City Council (769 views) and Mayoral race (100 persons in attendance and more than 1,000views); City of Lafayette (382 views); City of Louisville (70 views) and Boulder Valley School District (1,109 views); Town of Erie Trustees (500+ views). All had live, simultaneous Spanish interpretation.
- Ballot issue presentations: two presentations in English and Spanish (254 views)
Our Communications methods also included press releases, OpEd submissions to newspapers, and letters to the editor to highlight issues important to League. This past year, coverage included voting methods, the For the People Act, election security, and encouraging voter turnout. Not all submitted press releases and letters result in news coverage, but we worked to strategically engage media.
Many thanks to all who helped with our Communications effort!
Voter Service Team
Our voter service team was hard at work again this past year, with activities including candidate forums, ballot issue presentations, voter registrations and our VOTE411.org election information platform. Without a dedicated volunteer Voter Service Director till March 2022 (welcome, Emma Piller to this important role!), our past Operations Director, Mandy Nuku, provided essential coordination for the sub-team efforts.
Voter service continues to be a core function of our League, with activities that are more widely known. COVID-19 still impacted our ability to conduct voter registration as we have in the past, yet this past year, LWVBC volunteers held 16 voter registration drives throughout Boulder County, focusing on events in Longmont as election data indicates lower voter turnout in that part of the county.
We also held seven candidate forums, ably coordinated by Mandy and Jo Porter, most of which took place in fall 2021 for the November election, but also included the Town of Erie Trustees forum in March 2022. As in previous years, all of our forums were conducted in English and Spanish and we also partnered with organizations like the Emergency Family Assistance Association and the Boulder Valley School District Latino Parent Committee and Impact on Education to submit and review questions and participate in the forums themselves. Many thanks to our candidate forum volunteers
Our Ballot Issues team reviewed and prepared pro/con materials for 14 proposals for the Louisville, Lafayette, and Boulder city ballots, and held two presentations which were recorded and made available for viewing on our YouTube channel. The team also provided recommendations to the Board, later affirmed, on whether LWVBC supported, opposed or remained neutral on the ballot issue.
Lastly, LWVBC shined again with our VOTE411.org election information platform. VOTE411 is a national League initiative and tool that provides voter registration information, candidate information and Q&As, ballot issues and other nonpartisan information to anyone. Previously LWVBC was one of the first local Leagues to provide VOTE411 content in both English and Spanish; something that continues to be a core practice for inclusivity and equity.
In spring 2022 we welcomed several new leaders into Voter Service roles, including Emma as our Voter Service Director and Pirie Jensen as Voter Outreach director; we’ve determined that “voter outreach” is a more appropriate and accurate description of our activities than “voter registration”. We are also hoping to kick-start a revised She Is Me project to engage youth voters throughout the county, on information about the importance of local elections and voting in a fun, interactive, multi-generational project.