Local Democracy Information

Measure 2E risks creating numerous problems that would erode our high-functioning local democracy. The references and news stories below detail some of the facts behind those problems.

Keep reading to understand why to vote NO on 2E!

Rushed 2E process abandons BVSD school elections and ignores County Clerk advice

“The Clerk’s office encourages any city … interested in transitioning … to even-year elections to engage in a robust stakeholder process to understand the impacts on voters from voters as well as the groups that work to engage and educate voters.”

Molly Fitzpatrick, Boulder County Clerk
Memo to Boulder City Council – June 2nd, 2022
  • Boulder’s current City Council did not heed the Clerk’s good advice, and held only a single public hearing 3 weeks before putting 2E on the ballot. In fact, they failed to reach out to BVSD whose school board elections are held in odd years like City Council races currently are. This has caused deep concern on the Boulder Valley Board of Education, leading to several current and past school board members to endorse a NO vote on 2E. In fact, here is what Kathy Gebhardt, current BVSD Board President has to say: “Systemic change works best when all the interested parties are engaged and can have thorough and fact based discussions, a process that did not occur here.
  • The Boulder Valley Education Association (BVEA) has also endorsed a NO vote on 2E due to the potential adverse effects of abandoning BVSD school elections in odd years.
  • Here’s an example of what most academics and experts recommend: We encourage cities to conduct their own cost-benefit analysis and factor in other local considerations when assessing whether consolidation [moving elections to even-years] makes sense in their city. Part of that analysis should include an evaluation of the racial/ethnic representation among voters who turn out and whether those demographics fairly represent the general population.” [10]
  • “Changing the timing of elections does appear to have an effect on turnout, though policymakers may wish to consider other implications of moving municipal races to even-numbered years. These considerations are many and have varied levels of research behind them. Ultimately, tradeoffs must be weighed and accepted if a change to when elections occur is to be adopted.” [1]

🤷‍♂️ What does this mean?

The process to place this item onto the ballot was rushed and sloppy with only a single pro-forma opportunity for public input. The City Council ignored their own public engagement processes and recommendations from academics on this very substantial procedural change – a change that affects our primary right and responsibility as voters. Our own County Clerk made the same recommendation and our City Council ignored her. There are local considerations and no such analysis was done.The major unintended consequence is the abandonment of school board elections.

Holding City Council elections in even years would have uncertain effects on equitable representation

Boulder County tracks only voters’ age and sex, not race, ethnicity or income. There is no published research correlating turnout with race, ethnicity or income for Boulder that we have been able to track down. Presumably because of this lack of relevant local election demographic data, the “Yes” campaign looked outside of Colorado, and have cited a 2021 statewide meta analysis from California, “Who Votes: City Election Timing and Voter Composition.” [14

The study concludes in part that: “The shift to presidential election timing reduces the white share of voters by less than 5 percentage points in cities where whites represent more than 80% of the voting-age population, but the effect is more than 15 percentage points in cities where white residents account for only a quarter of the adult population. Even more dramatically, holding local elections concurrently with presidential contests increases the Latino share of voters by less than 5 percentage points in a city where Latinos account for a fifth of the adult population. But the effect increases to 25 percentage points in a city that is 55% Latino.”

To explore this further, we did our own back-of-the-envelope estimation of how the biggest and most diverse population of Boulder, the CU student body, would potentially increase our voter representation. We found that the white share decreases by 2% and that for all other groups the increase is less than 1% — in line with the findings in the California analysis.

Boulder is 79% white (2020 census data), so based on the studies quoted above for California, the improvements to representation for the Asian and Hispanic community are likely to be small or negligible, and have little impact either way for Black community members. Thus, claims of benefits to under-represented communities and improvements to racial or ethnic representativeness in Boulder are purely speculative and unfounded. 

🤷‍♂️ What does this mean?

Considering Boulder is 79% white [6],  the “potential” gains inferred by the “Yes” campaign regarding representativeness are highly speculative. Switching to even-year elections may benefit the representation of marginalized communities in some cities in some states. Without a Boulder-specific analysis that includes Colorado same-day registration and all mail-in elections, as well as Boulder’s large college student population, the effects for representativeness may be neutral or even counterproductive for members of those communities. It seems well worth studying this topic thoroughly before changing our local elections from our currently successful system.

To make a meaningful impact, the City should instead conduct outreach to UNLIKELY voters, not existing even-year voters, helping them understand the impact of local issues on their lives.  And doing this outreach in odd years, without the distraction of a national election, would be more effective.

Ballot fatigue is real and problematic

  • “When fatigue kicks in, voters may be more likely to vote “no” …  or to abstain from voting altogether [on local issues] [2]
  • “… more candidates also means a higher cognitive burden for voters who must learn more during campaigns in order to find their “ideal” candidate. … subjects presented with many options learn less about candidates, are more likely to vote based on meaningless heuristics, and are more likely to commit voting errors [3]
  • “Facing more decisions [on a ballot] significantly increases the tendency to abstain or rely on decision shortcuts, such as voting for the status quo or the first-listed candidate[4]
  • “Citizens … make decisions about candidates and referenda ‘downballot’, and they often opt to not make a selection when voting. This often results in lower rates of voting for different races even within the same election. In 2016, the difference between participation for a national race and a local one could be … nearly 32 points” [1]

For example, in 2016, in Denver, the difference on turnout from “top ballot” items (presidential and state races) and “downballot” items was 11%. In 2014, (another even-year election), the difference was 22.64%! [1]

🤷‍♂️ What does this mean?

Despite higher turnout in even years, the longer ballot would result in more partial ballots, increased randomness in voting, and a preference for the status quo.

Even-year elections may make Council races D and R partisan

“… all municipal elections would be held in years when no other elections were to be conducted … Why were municipal elections put in years by themselves? … The most likely reason is that municipal elections were then, and are still now, conducted on a nonpartisan basisElections for all other offices—county, statewide, etc.—were conducted on a partisan basis.[7]

🤷‍♂️ What does this mean?
Moving the elections to even-years will absolutely open our local elections to partisanship and ideologues. And this is not a slippery slope argument. For example, a councilmember in Aurora, CO that wishes to switch municipal elections to even-year elections wants the city to start requiring candidates to declare their party affiliation or identify as unaffiliated on local ballots [8]. Research shows that partisanship and nationalizing local elections changes the incentives for candidates, who turn their attention to national issues and away from effective local governance.

Many cities reject or reverse even-year voting proposals

Voters in High Pointe, NC

In 2018, Tucson, AZ (a college town) rejected Proposition 408 to move to even-year Council elections by a margin of 58% to 42%. This was a Council-initiated measure, partially in response to the Republican-controlled State Legislature forcing many AZ cities to move their elections to even years. Tucson City Attorney Mike Rankin said about the issue Local issues get lost in those [even-year] elections. So even if there’s a higher voter turnout, we’re at the end of the ballot. The local elections are drowned out by the state elections for governor and senator and, then, presidential. Ultimately, Arizona sued Tucson and the case was brought before the US Supreme Court where, in a 5-1 decision, the Court ruled that Tucson could continue to have its local elections in odd years [11,12,13].

See also the case of High Pointe, NC: “High Point City Council members and candidates found that their races were utterly lost in all the noise of bigger campaigns. … High Point residents voted better than 2-1 just three years ago to move from even-year to odd-year city elections.” [6]

🤷‍♂️ What does this mean?

Even-year city elections are rare in the US for a reason: most cities seem to like their local issues separated from state and national partisanship. About 6% of US cities hold mayoral or Council races in presidential even years, and only around 3.5% of cities hold those races in non-presidential even years. Most cities not forced by their partisan legislatures to shift to even year local election cycles choose to have those elections on odd-year schedules.

Longer ballots would increase the cost of elections

According to the Boulder County Clerk, there is a potential that transitioning to even-year elections could regularly push the City of Boulder to a multi “card” (sheet) ballot in general election years. During even years, this would increase printing cost and other associated processing costs, such as mailing a “heavier” ballot.” [9

🤷‍♂️ What does this mean? 

Measure 2E would deliver longer and costlier ballots. And we’d still have the expense of odd-year elections for the BVSD school board, state fiscal ballot measures, and local ballot measures!

Vote NO on 2E

Elected officials, former office holders, and your friends and neighbors across Boulder
encourage you to reject ballot measure 2E.

State Representatives for Boulder and Gunbarrel

Rep. Edie Hooton

Colorado HD10 State Representative

Senator Rollie Heath, former Majority Leader of the Colorado Senate

Senator Rollie Heath

Former State Senate Majority Leader

Boulder Valley School District

Kathy Gebhardt

President of BVSD Board of Education

Nicole Rajpal

Treasurer, BVSD Board of

Stacey Zis

BVSD Board of Education

Tina Marquis

Former President of
BVSD Board of Education

Lesley Smith

Former BVSD Board of
Education Member

Laurie Albright

Former President of
BVSD Board of Education

Tina Mueh

Former Boulder Valley Education
Association (BVEA) President

Boulder County Commissioners

Josie Heath, former Boulder County Commissioner

Josie Heath

Former Boulder County Commissioner

City Council Members and Advisory Boards

Mark Wallach

Boulder CC Member

Tara Winer

Boulder CC Member

Bob Yates

Boulder CC Member

Michael Christy

Boulder Cannabis Licensing Board Member

John Gerstle

Boulder Planning Board Member

Brooke Harrison

Boulder County Board of Health Member

Sarah Silver

Boulder Planning Board Member

Hernán Villanueva

Boulder Environmental Advisory Board Member

Cindy Carlisle

Former Boulder CC Member & CU Regent

Allyn Feinberg

Former Boulder CC Member

Crystal Gray

Former Boulder CC Member

Suzanne Jones

Former Boulder Mayor and CC Member

George Karakehian

Former Boulder Mayor Pro Tem and CC Member

Lisa Morzel

Former Boulder Mayor Pro Tem and CC Member

Susan Osborne

Former Boulder Mayor and CC Member

Francoise Poinsatte

Former Boulder CC Member

Steve Pomerance

Former Boulder CC Member

Gordon Riggle

Former Boulder CC Member

Andrew Shoemaker

Former Boulder CC Member

Phil Stern

Former Boulder CC Member

Sam Weaver

Former Boulder Mayor and CC Member

Mary Young

Former Boulder Mayor Pro Tem and CC Member


South East Boulder
Neighborhood Association (SEBNA)

Your Friends and Neighbors

Karl Anuta

Barb Appel 

Michele Bishop

Matt Bissonette

Brian Bonnlander

Marsha Caplan

Leslie Chandler

David Driscoll

Mary Cooper Ellis

Barbara Fahey

Lili Francklyn

Leslie Glustrom

Jane Greenfield

Hal Hallstein

Jim Hooton

Beth Isacke

Nancy Kornblum

Susan David Lambert

Sue Larson

John Lichter

Peggy Lichter

Leonard May

Michael McCarthy

Angela McCormick

Judith McGill

Ulla Merz

Hope Michelsen

Sara Mitton

Jeff Mitton

Ning Mosberger-Tang

Donnie Novak

Emily Reynolds

Leadership Team, ThinkBoulder

Gordon Riggle

Jack S Rook III

Shari Roth

Karen Sandburg

Lisa Spalding

Britta Singer

Mark Stangl

Phil Stern

Gail and Porter Storey

Tim Thomas

Fred Thrall

Richard Valenty

Stuart Walker

Bart Windrum

Peggy Wrenn

Valerie Yates