THE PODIUM: One vote can make all the difference in any election

Author: Wayne Williams - October 26, 2017 - Updated: November 2, 2017

Wayne Williams

Every vote matters.

I learned that when I was still a teenager.  The mayoral candidate I volunteered for, my friend Bob, lost by 12 votes. A dozen. That hurt.

As the El Paso County clerk and recorder I oversaw two school board races that were decided by a single vote. This was after all the provisional ballots had been counted and the recount was finished. A lone vote could have made all the difference. Recent recall elections and other challenges in several counties illustrate how important school board races are to our lives.

And it’s not just school board races that are close.  Here in El Paso County we’ve had a municipal tax question that failed on a tie vote and a mayor’s race that ended in a tie settled by a random draw.

Since a single vote can change the outcome, we take voter fraud seriously. While it’s not in the millions, voter fraud occurs. We’ve just completed a study here in Colorado where we compared our voting list and our returned ballots to four other states. We found 48 instances that seemed worthy of investigation. While some investigations revealed errors that weren’t crimes, other cases are being actively investigated by our district attorneys across the state.  As those investigations are completed, we will let you know what happens.

In last year’s presidential election, 2,859,216 Coloradans marked a ballot. If trends continue, less than half those voters will participate in the election this Nov. 7.

Sure, there’s no presidential candidate on the ballot, and the showdown between the gazillion governor contenders isn’t until next year. But we are choosing, in some areas, school board or city council candidates, and deciding on tax measures and all sorts of issues that will influence our property taxes, our home values and our community.

Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights gives us as voters the right to make decisions.  Do we want to fix the gap on I-25 North?  As someone who drives from my home in Colorado Springs to Denver on a daily basis, I know the need is there.  As voters, we get to decide if the solutions offered on the ballot are the ones we want to adopt.

I encourage you to vote.  If you haven’t received your ballot, go to www.govotecolorado.com — or text “CO” to “2VOTE” to check your address.  If you haven’t registered yet, it’s easy to do on the site!

If you mail your ballot back, do it by Halloween.  Or use one of the convenient drop boxes located throughout the area and return it by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 7.

Though odd-year elections may not garner the same amount of media attention as presidential or even gubernatorial elections, I’ve been involved with running in or administering elections for decades and can assure you these elections affect real lives.

And local policies affect your daily life. Many of the issues that we see debated on the evening news and on social media are also debated at the local level. Taxes, education and infrastructure are a few of the big ones. Vote at the level where your voice has the most power.

Every vote matters. Vote, and vote early!

Wayne Williams

Wayne Williams

Wayne Williams is Colorado's secretary of state. He is a former El Paso County clerk and recorder and a former El Paso County commissioner.