Federal judge issues preliminary injunction against Colorado petition laws

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June 13, 2010

By Leslie Graves

DENVER, Colorado: On Friday, June 11, federal district judge Philip Brimmer issued a 39-page preliminary injunction forbidding the state of Colorado from enforcing several key provisions of Colorado House Bill 1326 (2009). Judge Brimmer's order, in particular, found that the provisions of HB 1326 that ban compensating petition circulators on a pay-per-signature basis are unconstitutional.[1]

Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP, a law firm in Denver, is handling the litigation on behalf of the plaintiffs.

A key finding in the June 11 preliminary injunction is:

"Based on Dr. Smith’s testimony and in consideration of the other evidence offered at the hearing, the Court finds that pay-per-signature compensation is no more likely than pay-per-hour compensation to induce fraudulent signature gathering or to increase invalidity rates."

Judge Brimmer also wrote:

""The Court recognizes that the State has legitimate and strong interests in protecting the integrity of its electoral system and that preventing fraud and invalidity in the signature gathering process serves that interest. However, because there is no evidence that restricting per-signature compensation of petition circulators prevents fraud or reduces invalidity rates, the State has failed to demonstrate that its interests make it necessary to burden the plaintiff's rights in the way that (the legislation) has."[2]

The impact of the preliminary injunction is that pending a full trial, initiative sponsors in Colorado who are currently circulating petitions for the 2010 ballot can disregard HB 1326's ban on paying circulators by the signature.

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