Colorado archived news

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This is the page for older, archived Colorado ballot news. For more recent news items, go to Colorado ballot initiative news.

Charges of fraud, misrepresentation

Since the Civil Rights Initiative secured ballot status, charges of fraud against the measure's proponents have escalated. Several dozen people are claiming they were misled into signing the petition by unscrupulous petitioners,[1] and the charges have been getting widespread coverage in the media.

Freddie Whitney, a 78-year-old African-American, signed the petition. A few weeks later, she says she was shocked to learn from a local newspaper that she had unwittingly lent her support to a measure that seeks to eliminate state programs that give preferential treatment to minorities and women. "My reaction was, 'Oh, my God, what have I done?'" Whitney told the New York Times.[2]

But Connerly defends the effort against accusations that signers were misled into signing because they thought the measure would end discrimination, saying that ending discrimination is exactly what the measure will do, if approved.[2][3]

Bill Vandenberg, a co-chairman of Colorado Unity, said his group is considering taking Connerly to court and filing a legal challenge with the secretary of state.[2] The Colorado Unity Coalition alleges that petitioners collecting signatures this year targeted black community events and led some signers to believe they were supporting affirmative-action laws. Colorado Unity is urging voters who mistakenly signed the petition to speak out, setting the stage for a potential lawsuit.[4][5]

Paper ballot initiative killed in Colorado

Support for a plan to hold primarily paper-ballot elections in Colorado fell apart after House and Senate leaders pulled their support for the bill. House Majority Leader Alice Madden, House Minority Leader Mike May, and Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany withdrew their support, saying the bill was unnecessary in light of the recent recertification of voting machines and because of concerns that clerks couldn't implement an election using primarily paper ballots. Because of this the $11 million that would have supported the bill is being diverted elsewhere.[6]

Colorado Civil Rights Initiative supporters turn in petitions with many signatures to spare

Supporters of the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative measure turned in 128,744 signatures March 10, more than 50,000 more than the minimum number required to get it on the November ballot. The petitions still must still be certified by the Secretary of State to make sure at least 76,047 of the signatures are valid.

Ward Connerly, founder and chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute, a national non-profit organization that is supporting similar ballot initiatives in five states, was on hand for the petition turn-in.[7]

Lawmakers want to make it harder for voters to amend constitution, easier to vote on state laws

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is supporting a proposal to make it harder for citizens to place constitutional amendments on the ballot for voter approval, but easier to call a vote on state statutes.

Current law places the same requirements for placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot as for putting a statutory change before voters. The new proposal would increase the signature requirement for constitutional amendments by more than 15,000 and drop the signature requirement for placing a new state law on the ballot by the same amount.

The proposal would also add a distribution requirement, requiring supporters of constitutional amendments to collect at least 10 percent of signatures from each of Colorado's seven congressional districts. The plan would move the deadline for filing initiatives earlier, as well, which lawmakers argued requiring would "strengthen" the initiative process, giving proposals a better chance at a full public vetting.

Initiative activists usually pursue a constitutional amendment rather than a state law because the Legislature isn't able to change it, but lawmakers complain that keeps them from making changes that may be needed. Under the new proposal, lawmaker would have to get a two-thirds vote in order to change a law passed by voters for the first six years. Currently, the legislature can change citizen-initiated laws by a simple majority.

If two-thirds of the House and Senate approve the constitutional-reform measure, it will be placed on the November ballot for voters to approve or disapprove.[8][9]

Paper ballot proposal

Colorado may be using only paper ballots come this November even though the county clerks almost unanimously oppose the idea. The Senate State Affairs Committee unanimously approved SB 189, saying only those that request electronic voting machines should receive them. The Colorado Secretary of State's office was sued in 2006 over the electronic voting machine certification methods. As a result of that suit, virtually all e-voting machines were decertified in the state. Now Gordon believes it's best to go to an all-paper balloting for everyone else because of the specter of another suit because voters aren't convinced the machines are reliable.[10][11]

Labor organizes against Colorado Right to Work Initiative

The Right to Work Initiative in Colorado has a large opposition force that is organizing to defeat the initiative. A coalition backed by labor organizations is behind two other recent proposals, the Discharge Initiative and the Corporate Fraud Act. But Denver-based business groups oppose the two measures being floated around. "They're just anathema to our notion of how business should operate in Colorado," said Dan Pilcher, a spokesman for the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry.[12]

See also