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The Voter Service and Polling Center in Breckenridge, on primary Election Day, Super Tuesday, March 5, 2024.
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News

We Asked, “What Matters to You in This Election?” Here’s a Bit of What We’ve Heard so Far

By Megan Verlee, Colorado Public Radio News

May 3, 2024

One month ago, newsrooms across the state launched an ambitious project: invite the people of Colorado to tell us what they want politicians to talk about in this election, and use their answers to help guide the stories we tell.

So far, more than 3,100 people from around the state have responded to that call and filled out the Voter Voices survey.

“I’d like to see candidates focus not only on our rights as Americans, but also on our obligations to be informed, involved, open to compromise, civil, nonviolent. In other words, to put our country first,” wrote Sydney Schnurr of Buena Vista, who credited Richard Haass’ book, “The Bill of Obligations,” as an influence.

“What the U.S. can do to make the world more stable,” is the question a man in Fort Collins said candidates need to answer. “Employment rate is near pre-COVID levels, what can be done to get prices down after 9% increases in 2022—it’s great that inflation is ONLY 3%/yr now but prices are still 20-30% higher than 2019.”

The Coloradans who filled out our survey so far make it clear they want politicians to discuss issues like the environment, housing affordability, immigration, health care and education.

In Walsh, on the southeastern plains, a shortage of healthcare workers is a driving concern for Rita Hetrick. She runs the long-term care facility in the town of roughly 540 people. Instead of drawing on a local workforce, she relies on pricey staffing agencies. “We don’t have a stream of cash that’s just available when you’re a small, rural facility.” Hetrick told Voter Voices that state and federal regulations exacerbate the problem and it’s something she wants to see politicians tackle.

Many have also written about their concerns for our democracy itself.

“I want candidates to discuss wholesale reform of our country’s and Colorado’s constitution,” wrote Juan Manuel Ramirez Anzures of Denver. “We need to overhaul them to incorporate reforms like more seats, instant-runoff elections, robust publicly financed elections, and proportional representation.”

We’re also asking how much confidence people have in elections, both how they are conducted in Colorado, and around the country. The people responding so far are telling us they have great faith in our state’s election system, but a lot more doubt about whether the election will be conducted fairly nationwide.

The Voter Voices survey is being conducted by 60 newsrooms statewide from Fort Collins to Pueblo, Salida and Alamosa and from Sterling and Kiowa to Grand Junction, Durango and Nucla.

As Regan Tuttle, owner and editor of the San Miguel Basin Forum, put it: “My community is very remote and rural. They tend to feel that nobody listens. I felt the survey would give them a chance to speak and feel heard ...”

The project is led by the nonprofit Colorado News Collaborative (COLab) and CPR.

The survey will remain open through this year’s election campaigning, as newsrooms continue to record their communities’ priorities and present what we learn to our readers and listeners.

The goal is not only to respond to what Coloradans statewide and locally say matters to them in our election reporting, but also to challenge candidates to respond directly to voter priorities and concerns.

We invite you not just to fill out the Voter Voices survey, but also to pass it on; share the link with others you know whose opinions we should hear. You can also find out whether your newsroom is participating and connect directly to its survey here.

CPR Audience Editor Stephanie Rivera contributed to this report.