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Opinion: Coloradans uphold progressive values and personal freedoms in 2020 election

Nov 7, 2020 | Editorials | 0 comments

//A sign in the front yard of a home in the Sloan Lake neighborhood in Denver is decorated with four “I Voted” stickers on Nov. 1. Photo by Ali C. M. Watkins | acmwatkins@gmail.com

What do Colorado ballot propositions 113, 115 and 118 have in common? The final voting results reflected the wave of local-level progressive policies the country saw on Nov. 3. These measures put political accountability, bodily autonomy and workers’ rights on the ballot, and voters resoundingly stood in favor of all three.  

 

Proposition 113 – Adopt Agreement to Elect U.S. President by Nationa Popular Vote

 This year, Coloradans shattered previous voting records in the state. With an overall turnout of 85% of active voters, it is clear residents of the Centennial State feel the need to make an impact. This initiative is a step in the right direction to rid our nation of an antiquated election method. The Electoral College excludes apprehensive minority and first-time voters due to the warranted concern of whether or not individual votes actually count.  There have been five instances in U.S. history when, despite an overwhelming popular vote in favor of one candidate, their opponent was elected to the White House. The most recent case was in 2016, when President Trump won the electoral college and presidency but lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. 

Unfortunately, that does not instill confidence in one’s opinion being heard.

Colorado, along with 14 additional states, joined their forces for a combined total of 196 Electoral College votes and opted to uphold their portion of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The contractual arrangement secures all presidential electors from each state for the candidate who receives a higher number of popular votes nationwide. The motion of this proposition, passing with 52.4% of the vote, affirms that Colorado is ready for its populace to have a louder voice and a more direct involvement when appointing a president.

 

Proposition 115 – Prohibit Abortions After 22 Weeks

Wait, what? Colorado is still discussing reproductive rights on a ballot? Between 2008 and 2014, there were three failed measures that sought to pose restrictions on abortion and its definition. These initiatives are most often funded by national pro-life organizations like Personhood USA and supported locally by Colorado Right to Life and Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs. Despite the attempt to confuse voters with convoluted and emotional language, Coloradans have overwhelmingly voted against the restrictions. Hate to break it to you, but history repeats itself with this one. Simply put, 59.1% of the state cast their votes against the proposed ban, totaling 1,744,953 people—a stark contrast to the 124,632 signatures that put it on the ballot in the first place. 

The goal of the 2020 initiative was to limit the maximum gestational period of abortion to 22 weeks, and in doing so, wrongly limiting the freedom of people with uteruses and medical professionals. A physician would be punished with a Class 1 misdemeanor for providing a prohibited abortion, and their medical licenses would have been suspended in the state of Colorado for a three-year minimum. Although the proposition excluded life-threatening instances, it still imposed a level of control over a womxn’s right to choose. 

The gestational period of an abortion does not matter, because all circumstances are unique. Once a human body is regulated by government mandate, the floodgates to further authority open. It is apparent that the majority of Colorado will not acquiesce to a minority who pine to tell womxn what to do with their bodies. With that, the state remains one of seven in the U.S. that does not restrict abortion after a specified gestational period.

 

Proposition 118 — Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program

Colorado voters passed a law that requires employers to provide 12 weeks of paid time-off for family medical emergencies. Instances of abuse and sexual assault, severe mental illness and active-duty military service are all permissible reasons for leave. It also includes an additional four weeks of medical leave in cases of pregnancy and childbirth complications. This leave will be funded by a payroll tax that is to be split evenly between employers and employees. Initial premiums will be paid beginning in 2023. The benefits become available in January 2024. This law also safeguards employees from any retaliatory or disciplinary action when utilizing their paid leave, as well as their entitlement to the same position and pay upon return.

This has been in legislative movement since 2014, but it is the first time that Colorado will join only eight other states in more comprehensively protecting workers’ rights.

The passing of Proposition 118 translates largely to individuals who otherwise would not be able to take time away from work during a family crisis. This limitation predominantly rests over income concerns. There is a toxic mentality in the U.S. that workers must choose between taking care of their family or themselves and earning a paycheck—especially during times of health-related hardship. It’s become an even larger part of the conversation during the pandemic when many have been forced to go to work sick out of fear of losing their job. The 57.1% approval this proposition secured allows people to securely make a choice during difficult times that could be right around the corner for us all.

It is evident that the outdated function of our democracy has largely failed us on a national level thus far. But on Tuesday, it became more evident that Colorado is hungry to embark on a new age journey. The American tenet of freedom is reflected in the results of this election. The freedom to have your voice heard in an election. The freedom to make a life-altering decision regarding one’s body. The freedom to be at the bedside of a loved one.

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