The Alternative Voter’s Guide

The Legislative Council’s ballot-analysis booklet has inspired so many fights, it should be called the black-and-blue book. Here’s our cure.

Noteworthy opponents: Smokers.

Fun facts:

• Colorado now has the lowest tobacco tax in the country, at twenty cents per pack.

• Even if Amendment 35 passes, cigarettes will still be cheaper in Colorado than in any of our bordering states.

• Anti-smoking forces are rapidly approaching Denver: Arvada recently banned smoking in restaurants.

• Stryker, who gave $3 million to defeat a proposed 2000 amendment that would have gutted bilingual education, is a high school dropout.

Best campaign snafu:

None (so far). But in previous elections, the tobacco industry compiled extensive personal files on its opponents, as well as journalists who might cover the campaigns.

Guide to decide:

• If you smoke unfiltered cigarettes, vote yes. You'll be thankful for those extra health-care dollars.

• If you smoke menthols, vote yes. You don't really smoke, anyway.

• If you like a perfect dive bar, vote no. Smoke is essential to covering up the smell of stale beer and vomit.

• If you like a fern bar, vote yes. A cigarette was never going to make you look cool, anyway.

• If you like putting off for tomorrow what you could do today, vote no.

• If you smoke only when you drink, then screw you.

If we were betting types:

WW: 6-1 in favor. But the death rate for smokers is climbing too fast to make an accurate count.

TR: 2-1 in favor.

JG: 100-none in favor. "Slam fucking dunk. The only people you can be mean to today are smokers. Plus, if you're against it, you're either an evil smoker or you're Satan incarnate."

Amendment 36: Selection of Presidential Electors
What the hell would it do?

Split the state's electoral college votes according to the percentage of votes cast for the presidential candidates, rather than award them in the winner-take-all system created by the U.S. Constitution.

Alert: If Amendment 36 passes, it goes into effect immediately. Not in 2008, not in 2012, but on November 2, 2004. That's why the rest of the country is saying that Colorado has the potential to play the role of spoiler that Florida did four years ago.

To be elected president, a candidate must win at least 270 of the 538 possible electoral votes. Each state has as many electoral votes as it does senators and representatives combined -- in Colorado's case, that's nine. And while nine might sound kind of puny compared to California's 55, the passage of Amendment 36 might be enough to change the actual outcome of the presidential race. Rather than give the winner of Colorado's popular vote -- Bush in 2000, and likely again in 2004 -- all nine electoral votes, Amendment 36 would immediately split the electoral votes, probably five to four. If that had happened in 2000, Al Gore would be up for re-election right now.

Who's behind it?

Phoenix-based People's Choice for President, which formed the local Make Your Vote for President Count committee.

War chest: $690,818

Big donors: People's Choice for President donated all but $1,568 of the total contributions.

Noteworthy supporters: Al Franken, state senator Ron Tupa.

Who wants it dead?

Coloradans Against a Really Stupid Idea.

War chest: $125,400.

Big donors: The Apollo Group ponied up $100,000 of the contributions.

Noteworthy opponents: Governor Bill Owens, who is spearheading Coloradans Against a Really Stupid Idea; U.S. Senate candidate Pete Coors.

Fun facts:

• The opposition's biggest donor is the Arizona-based Apollo Group, which owns the University of Phoenix, whose former president, J. Jorge Klor de Alva, has given the proponents most of their cash. California entrepreneur Klor de Alva is now the CEO of Phoenix-based Apollo International. Don't California and Arizona have enough electoral votes of their own?

• Since 2000, similar measures have been proposed in 29 states. None have passed.

• Rick Ridder, who heads the pro-36 campaign, managed Howard Dean's presidential bid.

• Sitting this one out are U.S. Senate contender Ken Salazar and presidential candidate Senator John Kerry, who has the most to gain from its passage.

Best campaign snafu:

In a preemptive strike, on October 13 Fort Collins businessman Jason Napolitano filed suit to force the courts to determine whether the measure is constitutional.

Guide to decide:

• If you like rush-hour gridlock courtesy of presidential candidates coming to court swing-state Colorado, vote no.

• If you aced civics in high school, vote no.

• If you like to thumb your nose at the rest of the country, vote yes. After all, in 1893 Colorado was the first state to adopt a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.

• If you're scared that Bush might win, vote yes.

• If you're scared that Kerry might win, vote no.

If we were betting types:

WW: 3-2 against. But once you split the votes, is that 1.5 to 1?

TR: 100-1 against. "That is, I'll take $1 from anyone who wants to bet on the passage of this amendment," he says, "and if they're right, I'll hand over $100. I'll become rich if many people take this bet!"

JG: 1-1. "Almost too close to call. But don't we need a Colorado-based issue that doesn't focus on murder, sexual assault or binge drinking?"

Amendment 37: Renewable Energy Requirement
What the hell would it do?

Make Colorado a little greener. We already have green license plates; Amendment 37 would ensure that we also have some green policies. If it passes, Amendment 37 would require Colorado utilities with more than 40,000 customers -- currently nine outfits, which collectively serve about 80 percent of the state -- to generate at least 10 percent of their energy from renewables by 2015. At least four-tenths of that percentage would come from solar (hence the large campaign contribution from solar advocates), but the remaining six-tenths could come from wind, geothermal heat, methane, biomass facilities, hydroelectric or hydrogen fuel cells.

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