The last couple months have shown the depths of congressional dysfunction. Many think the problem isn't so much the people who serve there. It's a process that funnels all power to party leaders, stifling debate among the ranks. In 1988, Colorado voters recognized a similar issue in their state legislature. The remedy was something called the GAVEL Amendment — an acronym for Give A Vote To Every Legislator.
After eight years as Colorado's governor, John Hickenlooper appears to be gearing up for a presidential run. On the campaign trail, he's almost certain to emphasize gun control laws he signed in 2013. He led a purple state as it beat back the gun lobby to pass two controversial measures. But what did he do — or not do — to make that happen? And what does the story of those laws say about how Hickenlooper leads? CPR Public Affairs Reporter Bente Birkeland breaks it down. And keep an eye on this podcast feed! It's where we'll tell you more about the return of Purplish for the imminent legislative session.
Colorado boasts some of the highest voter turnout in the country. Seventy percent of eligible adults submitted a ballot in the 2016 election, putting the state fourth in the country for voter turnout. But that still means 30 percent of eligible adults sat it out. Why? Many of the common barriers to voting don't exist in Colorado. The process is easy. The elections are competitive. So we're turning to one group that can help with some answers: nonvoters themselves.
Unlike in other states, convicted felons in Colorado who have completed parole are allowed to vote. New laws require people leaving the criminal justice system to learn about their voting rights and give parolees the chance to pre-register. A bipartisan coalition is behind those changes, but how far is it willing to go toward re-enfranchising people within the criminal justice system?
Democratic presidential candidates are on a winning streak in Colorado. The state voted for Barack Obama twice and for Hillary Clinton in 2016. It's been even longer since Colorado elected a Republican governor. Those results have led some to wonder if the state shouldn't be considered purple anymore. On the electoral map, it might now be more of a light blue. One expert says not so fast.
Gerrymandering is on the Colorado ballot this November. Amendments Y and Z promise to take the politics out of the drawing of congressional and legislative boundaries. To do it, they would hand the responsibility to a pair of commissions made up of heavily screened citizens — not politicians or their hand-picked representatives. This week on Purplish, we look back at the troubled 2011 redistricting process and how it led to the current calls for reform. And we discover the amendments aren't just about putting politicians in line. They also try to balance voters' dueling desires for electoral power and community.
Neglect can be a powerful political force. Southern Colorado spent a century mostly voting for Democrats, but in 2016 many countries in the region voted for President Trump. It was the first time some had supported a Republican in decades. The reason many voters cited was a sense of feeling forgotten by state and national politicians too focused on urban and suburban corridors. Reporters Nathaniel Minor and Allison Sherry recently visited Southern Colorado as a part of CPR's election road trip series. They talked to voters about whether they feel like politicians are listening now--and what that could mean for the November and beyond.