“Better government for you: Not hiding elections!”
October 7, 2019
There is much to like in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), and it’s good to remember that it includes good government provisions that improve election procedures.
None of us want to put up with elected officials holding a surprise election for voter approval of a government’s action. Yet, there were times in the past in which the public was not adequately informed about an election. The elected officials would list it in a newspaper’s Public Notices section, and of course had to put the ballot measure into the government’s official record. But that was insufficient to let voters know what was going on, and by doing the minimum possible to notify voters, some governments were able to keep the elections low profile. The intent of suppressing turnout was so that only those people heavily invested in passage would participate. The normal citizen, the rank-and-file taxpayer, might miss a special election, allowing others to vote in, say, a new debt issue or increase a tax rate.
The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights corrected that situation. The constitutional measure pertains to all governments in Colorado, even small special districts that don’t command much attention.
When bringing an issue before the voters, TABOR requires that “At least 30 days before a ballot issue election, districts shall mail …. a titled notice ….. addressed to ‘All Registered Voters’ at each address of one or more active registered electors. …. Titles shall have this order of preference ‘NOTICE OF ELECTION TO INCREASE TAXES (or) TO INCREASE DEBT….’
The paragraph contains even more specifics, as it was carefully crafted to prevent elected officers from circumventing it. This important constitutional provision improves the operations of all governments in our state and protects the taxpayer in ways beyond just voting on tax rates.