Some Denver voters are confused, disappointed and frustrated to find Denver’s Elections Division would not be automatically mailing out voter information guides, known as “Blue Books,” to all Denver voters for the May 7 municipal general election.
“I was surprised that I didn’t get my blue book this year and I was waiting for it,” said Greg Cressler, a voter in Denver. “I have to have information in my hands in order to know how to vote.”
Blue Books are voter information guides that spell out the issues and provide arguments from both sides. They are typically mailed to voters for statewide issues, and Denver began mailing them for last November’s election. A state legislative official says for statewide elections, voter information guides have been sent to voters since at least 1993.
But Jocelyn Bucaro, Denver’s Deputy Director of Elections, said her agency decided not to mail out an information guide to Denver voter’s for next Tuesday’s election because of timing challenges if there is a runoff election in June, to “go green” and save paper and to save money.
It would have cost about $233,300 to print and mail the guides out to 265,000 Denver voters.
Instead, the city agency spent $61,688 to print and send out a postcard to Denver voters stating “Denver Elections is going green,” and informing voters it would not mail out voter information guides, instead making the same information available online at DenverVotes.org/VoterInfo.
“It was an internal decision. We weighed the pros and cons,” said Bucaro. She said the decision saved the city about $171,000. But not without some bumps in the road.
After sending out the postcards last month, beginning April 15 and continuing through April 19, about 100 voters each day contacted the Elections Division sometimes expressing confusion, concern and requesting voter information guides.
One voter wrote saying, ”Hi Denver Elections, why have you made it impossible for the elderly and disabled to get their voter information without a computer? It is wrong.”
Another voter wrote, ”I can’t make out the digital version of the Municipal Blue Book. I’m 68 years old and not good on the computer. Can you please mail me a hard copy of the Blue Book? I always read through the Blue Book before deciding who to vote for.” Still another wrote, ”Where can I find the municipal blue book online? Went into denvervotes.org, but didn’t know where to go from there. This should be easier to find since they weren’t mailed out.”
Elections officials say blue books are available at Denver libraries and recreation centers, but some callers said when they went to pick one up, there were none left.
On April 16, a manager with Denver’s Cook Park recreation center contacted the Election Division writing, ”Hello, we received some Voter Guide books yesterday. We are all out as of today and many people are still asking. How can we get some more books?”
In an interview with CBS4, Greg Cressler said election officials should be making it easier for people to access information, not harder.
“I think people should have access to information, and I don’t think cost cutting is an excuse. We shouldn’t have to take the extra initiative to gather information to help us vote. It should be given to us in our hands so we are ready to go.”
Bucaro said another factor leading to the decision was if there is a runoff election in June, a second voter guide would have had to have been printed and mailed, doubling the $233,000 cost.
“We believe the feedback has been not terrible. Voters are satisfied with the other options we are giving them,” said the elections official. She said the city had been mailing out voter guides to citizens who requested them, but that’s no longer practical. When CBS4 contacted the Elections Division Wednesday afternoon and requested a voter guide through the mail, the operator said the guide wouldn’t arrive in time since it takes three to five business days through the mail.