Letters 10/1: Online petitioning, COGCC and more

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On online petitioning

Thanks for the great article discussing Boulder’s slow walk toward online petitioning (Re: News, “Advancing Democracy,” Sept. 24).Here are a few observations on this ill-managed process. FYI, I was a member of Boulder’s Campaign Finance and Elections Working Group, and also served 10 years on the Boulder City Council:

1) There is no reason at all to not have both paper and online petitioning. It’s a relatively trivial job for the city staff to check the names on paper petitions against the electronic record of online endorsements, once they have verified the signatures. Besides, relatively few people will use paper, so it won’t be a huge burden. But more importantly, a citizen who is not set up to do online activities wouldn’t be excluded. 

2) The security concerns were not being handled in the most efficient way, at least as of the last time this was publicly discussed. The fundamental problem is that the Secretary of State wouldn’t allow cities to use the SOS’s website’s secure sign-in process to validate a voter’s identity. Given that difficulty, the simplest approach might have been to use credit cards to sign in or send out postcards with a sign-in verification code. But those were not even explored. 

3) This is NOT voting. This is just about getting something on the ballot. Comparing this to an actual election is a creating a concern that is not legitimate. 

4) The proposed telephone approach to sending out sign-in verification codes (as discussed by the city staff in December 2019) is counter-productive. A lot of people don’t want to make their phone numbers public, and the County Clerk could not, at that time, share non-public information with the City. Hopefully the City has gotten better access to emails that could be used to verify who is endorsing what.

5) The City could have asked MapLight to develop their process, which the company said as late as January this year that they could have up and running in 90 days, and would do it for free, not almost a half a million dollars! Then they City could have tested it and seen if they liked it well enough. If the City’s website is secure enough to handle council and staff internal communications, utility billing and credit card payments, a multi-hundred million dollar budget, huge construction contracts, municipal court functions, etc., it ought to be secure enough to handle people signing up to put something on the ballot.

Steve Pomerance/Boulder

Demanding action from COGCC

A few years ago, as a freshman in high school, I arrived at my first cross country race. I was anxious for all of my hard work to finally pay off in my first race at Mead High School. But as I stepped off the bus, I saw it. My mouth dropped open. I’d honestly never seen one up close before. It was a fracking site.

It looked less than a few hundred feet from the course I was about to run. Kids go to school here? THIS close to a fracking site? I was shocked. I was running a race knowing I was breathing in toxic gasses. Even more unbelievable, kids were going to school next to this everyday. 

The oil and gas industry was actually profiting off of putting children’s lives at risk.

Now, state law will continue to favor the oil and gas industry over our health. 

The COGCC’s draft rules for setbacks provide multiple loopholes for the oil and gas industry to exploit. I urge COGCC to enact firm setbacks of no less than 2,500 feet from spaces where children learn and grow. Extensive research indicates greatest harm to people living within 2,500 feet of fracking, so that should be the firm, non-waivable minimum setback to protect Coloradans.

I’m now a senior in high school, desperate for any adults with power to protect us from fracking. COGCC — please stop talking about how much you care about Colorado’s children because if you actually cared, you would show us.

Megan Neufeld/Lyons