Welcome to another episode of Dear Fort Collins. Today, we have the pleasure of speaking with Robbie Moreland, a representative from Represent Fort Collins, a group dedicated to bringing transparency to our local elections.
Robbie and I worked together on the Ranked Choice Voting campaign, which was successfully implemented last year. In this episode, we discuss the importance of voter education and the need for a comprehensive voter guide in Fort Collins. We also delve into other initiatives, such as a dollar-for-dollar matching program for candidates and establishing a quasijudicial election oversight board. Let’s dive into the details.
The Need for a Comprehensive Voter Guide
Robbie highlights the importance of a voter guide in the context of ranked choice voting, which will be implemented in Fort Collins in 2025. She emphasizes the need for voters to have access to information about all the candidates running for office, enabling them to make informed decisions. Robbie states:
“If you’re going to go into ranked choice voting and you’re going to start asking voters to rank candidates in races where there’s more than two candidates, you need to know a little bit about them. And there’s so many cities and states, counties around the country that do a voter guide, and it’s about time we do, too.”
The voter guide Robbie envisions goes beyond the existing resources provided by organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, League of Women Voters, and Real Estate board. It would encompass all the issues and candidates on the ballot, allowing voters to access information about each candidate easily. Robbie explains:
“I’m talking about a full-up voter guide that has all of our issues we’ll be voting on and all of the candidates, and one place where you can just thumb through it and see who all the candidates are, find their website, find out something about them. And we’ve never had something like that before.”
Empowering Candidates through a Dollar-for-Dollar Matching Program
Robbie also advocates for a dollar-for-dollar matching program for candidates, similar to the ones implemented in Boulder and Denver. This program would encourage more individuals to run for office by reducing the burden of fundraising. Robbie states:
“A lot of people, when you ask, ‘Hey, you have some great ideas, why don’t you run for office?’ They go, ‘Oh, raising money. I don’t want to raise money. That’s awful.’ But if there’s a dollar-for-dollar matching program that would encourage them to run for office because they don’t have to raise near as much to compete, that would be super helpful.”
In addition to supporting candidates financially, the city could also cap campaign spending, ensuring a level playing field for all candidates. Robbie explains:
“No candidate who participates in our dollar-for-dollar matching program is going to spend more than X amount. And so in the city of Boulder, there’s no candidate right now that spends over $20,000. So that’s amazing in Boulder, where you can just imagine the candidate races would get up there in the hundreds and $200,000, but they’re capped at $20,000.”
Establishing a Quasijudicial Election Oversight Board
Robbie proposes the creation of a quasijudicial election oversight board to provide independent and impartial oversight of elections in Fort Collins. This board would consist of residents, retired attorneys, and judges who can interpret the election code and ensure compliance. Robbie explains:
“I think that the city could really benefit by having a quasijudicial election oversight board or commission. That kind of takes the conflicts of interest away from the city Attorney’s office and the City clerk’s office in overseeing our elections and puts it with a group of residents made up of everyday people who want to be involved in our elections, as well as retired attorneys and judges who might have better insight into interpreting the legalese of our election code.”
The board would be responsible for adjudicating election complaints, reviewing campaign finance reports, and providing guidance to candidates. Robbie emphasizes that the goal is to help candidates navigate the complex process and ensure transparency:
“It’s not meant to scare candidates. It’s meant to help candidates. It’s meant to guide them through the process. Because I can just imagine the first time you run and you see that spreadsheet of all the things you have to fill out. That’s got to be daunting. And it’d be really nice to have a commission say, ‘We’re going to help you through this.'”
Implications and Future Outlook
The initiatives proposed by Robbie and Represent Fort Collins have significant implications for the future of elections in Fort Collins. A comprehensive voter guide would empower voters by providing them with the information they need to make informed decisions. A dollar-for-dollar matching program would level the playing field for candidates, encouraging more individuals to run for office. Establishing a quasijudicial election oversight board would ensure transparency and accountability in the electoral process.
By implementing these initiatives, Fort Collins has the opportunity to become a model for transparent and informed elections. The future of democracy relies on the active participation of citizens and the continuous improvement of election processes.