Megan Verlee

Megan Verlee is a reporter with Colorado Public Radio.

This week, as part of the Nation Engaged project, NPR and some member stations will be talking about what the 2016 primary season has revealed about voters' confidence in the American electoral system.

Voters unhappy with the political system this year and unsure about whether their vote matters have big complaints how the country's two main political parties choose their candidates.

Wyoming is sometimes called the Equality State — it had the nation's first female governor and was the first territory to give women the right to vote. But that legacy isn't visible on the floor of the state Senate. Just one of the 30 state senators is a woman.

"I am the queen of the Senate. I have my own little tiara," jokes Bernadine Craft, a Democrat who represents the mining town of Rock Springs.

A popular contraception program in Colorado is receiving criticism from conservative lawmakers who say that the program's use of intrauterine devices, or IUDs, qualify as abortions.

More than 30,000 women in Colorado have gotten a device because of the state program, the Colorado Family Planning Initiative. An IUD normally costs between $500 and several thousand dollars. Through the program women could receive one for free.

It's Sunday evening, and services are just getting underway at the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver. Nearly 200 worshipers sit in circles of plastic chairs around a simple altar table. Together they follow traditional Christian rites. They sit. They stand. They sing.

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West of the city of Colorado Springs, trees charred by the summer's wildfire scar the steep foothills. The Waldo Canyon fire destroyed more than 300 homes in June.

Now, that devastated neighborhood is coming back to life, with construction workers swarming over half-completed houses. While many of its former residents are preparing to move back, some just want to move on.

In the days after the fire devoured their homes, shell-shocked residents tried to wrap their minds around what had just happened to them.

Megan Verlee / KUNC

As we wait on Election Day Eve, Colorado has seen record levels of political advertising and marathon campaign appearances by both candidates. What is the impact of Colorado's status as a swing state?

Photo by Megan Verlee

With the first presidential debate now behind them, President Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney are back on the campaign trail.

Aurora, Colo., became a familiar name this summer, in the wake of a mass shooting at a local movie theater.

But there's much more to this Denver suburb than the recent tragedy. Just ask Ethiopian immigrant Fekade Balcha. Balcha's apartment, on Aurora's north side, sits in a dense neighborhood of squat brick apartment buildings and tiny homes.

"You see, in our apartment, there are Russians, Mexicans, Africans," Balcha says. "From Ethiopia, Somalia, Nigeria, and something like that."

As investigators dig deeper into Friday's mass shootings at a movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora, residents also are trying to piece together what happened and what it means for their city.

Aurora is Colorado's third-largest city, but it's probably not one many people had heard of before now.

Sitting in a cafe, life-long resident Joseph Nguyen says it's unfair his city will now be associated with the tragic attack that left 12 people dead and dozens more injured.

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