Both sides working hard to get voters to the polls

With the battle over referendums C and D widely regarded as too close to call, the winner may be the side that gets most of its supporters to the polls.

Campaigns on both sides of the referendums are gearing up for big get-out-the-vote drives before Tuesday’s election. Hundreds of people will spend the next week knocking on doors, phoning voters, and making lists of people committed to vote for their side.

“We’re walking door-to-door this weekend and I estimate we’ll have 600 pairs of boots on the ground,” said Sheila MacDonald, coordinator of the get-out-the-vote effort for the Yes on C & D campaign.

MacDonald said 400 volunteers have spent the past three weekends walking precincts all over the state, an effort that will be ramped up in these final days of the campaign. Her opponents will do the same.

“We plan to do a huge push this weekend; we’ll do 6,000 phone calls,” said Beth Skinner, state director of Freedom Works, one of the groups opposing the referendums.

While both camps will contact supporters, Skinner said her group – which is handling most of the voter effort for the no on C and D side – will target active Republicans who live in key counties, including El Paso, Arapahoe, Weld and Jefferson.

“They’re the people we know vote on a regular basis,” said Skinner. “Real Republicans don’t raise taxes, and we want to get them out to the polls and voting no.”

Skinner’s group is working with Vote No, It’s Your Dough, a group headed by Jon Caldara. That group is sponsoring thousands of automated calls to voters it believes are likely to oppose the referendums.

“This is an anti-politician vote,” said Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank. “It’s a tremendous group effort. We’re all working to kill this thing.”

The Yes on C & D campaign has a larger coalition behind it, including Republican Gov. Bill Owens, Democratic legislative leaders and much of the state’s business community. More than 1,000 groups have endorsed C and D, from the Arkansas Valley Community Center to the Lyons Board of Trustees, and supporters say they will try to appeal to voters all over the state.

Besides a central phone bank in Denver, MacDonald said her group will be running phone banks staffed by volunteers in Pueblo, Colorado Springs, and Durango, as well as Larimer, Weld and Mesa counties.

“We’re phone banking during the day and at night,” she said.

“We’ve been ramping up for the last three weeks and will be peaking Monday night. We’ve had thousands of volunteers, it’s been incredible.”

In addition to her own effort, MacDonald is counting on many of the groups that have endorsed the referendums to help. The Colorado Children’s Campaign, Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce have all launched their own outreach efforts to get voters to the polls.

“We’ve walked a number of precincts and we’ve distributed 1,300 yard signs,” said Chris Power Bain, spokeswoman for the chamber. “We’ve also sent e-mails to our members telling them how to get involved.”

400 volunteers have been walking precincts throughout the state during get-out-the-vote drives.