Colorado Politics 101
For anyone needing a refresher on how our federal and state government work, here are some videos to bring you up to speed. Note, these videos were created to help individuals organize against Trump.
Why? Municipal Elections Directly Influence Your Life
Before the last election, many of us had little idea how our cities and school boards elections were run. As we are now aware–and the right has long known–municipal elections:
- Impact the way our children are taught
- Impact roads
- Impact policing
- Impact taxes
- Impact growth, zoning and local economy
Municipal Elections Provide Outstanding Opportunities for Grass Roots Groups
Low turn-out means small efforts can generate large results! Engaging just a few voters matters.
Grass roots groups can use municipal elections to learn key skills such as canvassing, persuasion, voter registration and organization.
Candidates in municipal elections are accessible to any volunteer. Your group volunteers can interview candidates, get to know them and their positions, and create important lifelong political connections.
Find My Legislator
It’s important to know who represents you at the state and federal level. Click here to find your elected officials in the Colorado legislature. (When you navigate to the page, enter your address into the search box on the map.)
Once you’ve identified who represents you, we suggest 1) putting these folks into the contacts on your phone, and 2) going to their websites and signing up for their electronic newsletters. Once you’re on their mailing list, you will be able to stay current on what they are working on, and you will know when they are holding town halls.
What to Say When you Call your Rep
Calling your elected official (representative or senator at the state or federal level) is one of the simplest yet most effective ways for you to advocate for passage of a bill! The aids who answer these calls are keeping a tally count of the number of calls they receive both for and against passage of relevant legislation. They report these counts to the official, and this really influences how the official votes. We know that because elected officials confirm this is true!
Here are some tips for being as effective as possible when you call.
- Give your name, zip code, and tell them who you are
- In most cases, don’t bother calling elected officials who don’t represent you. They only really care about their own constituents.
- You are most effective if you are calling to ask them to vote yes or no on a specific bill, rather than a more general issue.
- You don’t need to be an expert! Keep it short – simply asking them to vote for something and providing a one sentence reason is enough.
- Always be respectful. You are talking with an aid who is overworked and just doing their job. Thank them.
Below is a sample script based on a fictional bill. Remember, it is always better to speak from the heart rather than sound like you are reading a script. The more often you call, the more comfortable you will get making these types of calls.
“Hi, my name is Jane Smith and I’m a constituent of Senator Zenginger. My zip code is 80004. I’m calling about the bill to prevent election subversion in our state. I hope the Senator supports this bill and asks her colleagues to do the same. It’s so important to protect free elections in our state. Thank you so much.”
Get involved with the Democratic Party Locally
If you are a registered Democrat, consider getting involved at the county level. There are active groups throughout Colorado. These groups are focused on getting Democrats elected throughout your county, which is incredibly important. Click on your county to link to your local group: Boulder, Longmont, Larimer County, Denver, El Paso County. Don’t see your county listed? Google them. Sign up for electronic newsletters put out by your county so you know whats going on.
Volunteer to help a local candidate–here’s how:
- Find your elected officials. This is a a great task to assign to a few group members, and to pin on your social media. Find districts here: Secretary of State Districts
- Choose a candidate for whom to volunteer. Discuss and choose with your group. You can all support one candidate, or break into committees based on candidate’s positions on key issues, or come up with your own system.
- Contact the candidate. The candidates will love your outreach. HOWEVER, it isn’t as easy as it seems. Candidates are very open to your help. Because they have little funding, often their social media is surprisingly opaque and responses to email very slow. Don’t let this discourage you! Remember, the right is funded even at the municipal level by outside interests. We, the grass roots volunteers, must be understanding and supportive. The best way to contact: make a call!
- Offer to help in ways the candidate suggests, or create your own actions. Here are some ideas:
PLANT A YARD SIGN GARDEN. Invite the candidate to bring yard signs to an event, and task your members with taking several signs and asking neighbors to post signs. Encourage members to report back, and use the opportunity, if appropriate, to recruit friends to come to the next meeting.
HAVE A CANVASSING PHONE PARTY. Because many people are uniformed about municipal elections, they may welcome an informational call. If they’re open, pivot in the conversation to talk about the candidate you support, and why. Here’s a sample flyer from House District 38.
CREATE “I PLEDGE TO VOTE’ INFORMATIONAL POSTCARDS. Hand out the postcards at local events as a service. People don’t have to sign the cards, but if they do–either in front of you or at home–they are far more likely to vote. Here are a few sample postcards, feel free to make your own using these as models.
Republicans Looking to get involved
Indivisible is for everyone who believes Trumpism is taking our country in the wrong direction. Now is the time to get involved with your own party and fight for democracy versus authoritarianism. Democracy is not a partisan issue. We need your help.
So you’re fired up and ready to make some calls, write some letters, and send some tweets. What now? How the heck do you figure out what’s going on in Colorado that needs your attention? CLEAN stands for Citizen Legislative Early Action Network. It was designed to provide everyday citizens like you with up to date information on upcoming bills in the Colorado House and Senate. Click here for more information and to join their electronic mailing list. Please note: CLEAN is run out of the Longmont Dems, but it is designed for all Coloradans.