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Voting problems, fraud, scandals plague polling places across America: Colorado
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Voting problems, fraud, scandals plague polling places across America: Colorado

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COLORADO - November 15, 2018

At 8:28 p.m. on November 6th, the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office released its latest breakdown of the voter turnout, showing an unprecedented result: Unaffiliated voters had turned in more ballots than Democratic or Republican voters.

This spike in unaffiliated voters didn’t come out of nowhere. Unaffiliateds make up the largest bloc of active voters. They were turning in ballots at a quicker rate than in 2014. The surge of unaffiliated voters in the midterm election is a startling development that will have repercussions for both parties, the Denver Post wrote.

Here’s a photo from State Sen.-elect Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood. Her team found this warning on the campaign trail:

denverpost.com

According to a 9NEWS analysis, Colorado judges win elections despite bad reviews. In the 2012 presidential election, nearly one in four Colorado voters skipped the question about whether to retain a state Supreme Court Justice. Many lower courts saw a steeper drop off but it matters who serves. Judges decide who gets custody in a divorce, whether a drunk driver goes to jail, and how long someone gets put away for violent crimes like rape or murder. The job is taxpayer-funded and pays a six-figure salary.

Colorado voters receive job reviews for judges that come with a recommendation about whether the judge should be retained in office.

9NEWS’ investigation found that since 1998 only three judges have lost their elections following a “do not retain” recommendation. One additional judge with a bad review chose to resign rather than face re-election.

On average, a judge deemed unfit to stay on the bench will win re-election in Colorado with 54% of the vote. That is a drop from the overall re-election average for Colorado judges, which is about 70%.

Experts agree more information to voters is what’s needed.

The Colorado Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation provides voters with surveys, data and recommendations about every judge up for a retention election, but more than 60% of voters don’t know about this resource. For example, the panel unanimously voted to not retain Pueblo County Judge Valerie Haynes in 2014.

The group cited concerns from its survey participants that included creating a hostile environment in her courtroom, lacking compassion, rejecting plea agreements without explanation, and failing to understand her performance issues, leaving “little reason to expect improvements to occur.”

Haynes won 62% of the vote on election night and kept her seat.

In 2014, three judges were given "do not retain" evaluations" and only one was voted out.

In 2016, two judges were given "do not retain" evaluations and only one was voted out.

Every expert 9NEWS talked to for this story believed that judges who earn a “do not retain” recommendation deserve to lose their jobs.

This year, 136 judges were evaluated, but only 128 are on election ballots. Eight chose to not seek retention, meaning they will step down or resign. There's no clear way of knowing if they were about to receive a poor evaluation, 9NEWS wrote.

"Whether or not our evaluation played anything in that, I can't really say," said Kent Wagner, Executive Director of the Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation. "They made the determination that they're not going to stand for retention and some of them did it after we had evaluations."

Author: USA Really