Insomnia Log

This is what keeps me awake at night???

Who needs sleep? (well you’re never gonna get it)
Who needs sleep? (tell me what’s that for)
Who needs sleep? (be happy with what you’re getting,
There’s a guy who’s been awake since the second world war)

-- words and music by Steven Page & Ed Robertson

Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States

Everything you need to know about me can be found in my posts

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Vote Early, Vote Often (Boulder Valley School District Issue 3A)

I went to the courthouse and voted early today. It was a good thing that I'd gone through all of the issues beforehand. I used one of the new electronic voting machines and there were something like 14 pages. Start to finish, it took me 25 minutes, and that was with essentially no wait time. I'm guessing that on election day it's going to be lots slower and the lines will be long.

I've previously been critical of the electronic voting systems, so I was very curious how it measured up. I had stated two conditions for acceptable use of electronic voting. The first was having a paper backup, and I was pleased to see that the system we are using in Boulder County (at least this year) does indeed print a paper copy of every ballot that can be used for recounts. Second, I said that there has to be a manual backup voting system, and there was in fact the option for anybody to vote manually.

As far as how difficult it is to vote using the new system, it seemed pretty straightforward. Complexity was very similar to the old punch cards (which I still see no reason for getting rid of). Perhaps a bit simpler because you don't have to deal with all of those paper ballots, or remembering to flip them over and vote the other side. Certainly quicker than voting on the new optical scan paper ballots.

One minor problem is that some of the text displayed on the new system (such as the details about the issues and names of judges up for retention) is in very small print. For a system that is supposed to be designed to help disabled people vote, they seem to have forgotten that a large number of people over a certain age have a problem reading small print if they didn't think to bring their reading glasses.

There was one ballot issue that I had not previously reviewed here, Boulder Valley School District Issue 3A. This measure would increase property taxes by about $100 per year for the average homeowner to pay for $300 million in bonds to improve the district's school facilities.

I'll admit I put off deciding because it's a tough issue. There's a very long list of projects, and the bottom line cost will be over $600 million after all the bonds are repaid. Clearly our schools are in need of serious facilities work. Also clearly, our school district officials have let us down by letting things get to this point. Many citizens have serious trust issues with district officials for how they have spent money from previous bond issues (curiously all numbered 3A on their respective ballots).

I also have a concern about what happens if both this measure and Amendment 39 pass. Without Issue 3A, Amendment 39 would force a big budget cut at BVSD. Add in $300 million in additional facilities spending and there will have to be huge cuts from somewhere else, I have no idea where.

So, when it came time to mark my ballot, I voted NO. Hopefully the school district officials can come up with a more palatable plan to make the required facilities improvements over time, rather than waiting until there is an emergency and they can blackmail us into this huge obligation.

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