Coloradans possess a valuable political tool that many Americans do not enjoy: the ability to amend our state constitution through the ballot initiative process.
This fundamental right enables Coloradans to take action when elected officials refuse to do so. In the past, Colorado voters successfully passed amendments to the constitution concerning campaign finance reform and ethics, term limits for elected officials, public school funding, marijuana legalization, and other issues ignored by state representatives.
However, a new ballot initiative seeks to limit this right by making it harder for citizens to amend the state constitution.
Amendment 71 is an attempt by political elites and wealthy special interests to make it impossible for anyone else to have a voice when it comes to amending Colorado’s Constitution.
This amendment would not make the process better, but simply more expensive and less accessible.
Amendment 71 is a ballot initiative with a two-fold plan to hamper citizen-led amendments. First, Colorado voters would have to approve all future constitutional amendments by 55 percent, rather than a simple majority of 50 percent plus one vote. Second, it would require proponents of ballot initiatives to gather signatures from two percent of voters in each of Colorado’s 35 state senate districts.
We all agree that voters throughout the state should have a say in amending our constitution. But if proponents fall short of gathering signatures in just one of Colorado’s 35 senate districts, the measure would not move forward. This means a single district could have veto power over the initiative—effectively overriding the rest of the state’s voters.
Collecting signatures for ballot initiatives is already an expensive and arduous process. Requiring signatures from each of the 35 senate districts would prevent all but the wealthiest special interests from gaining access to the ballot.
Acquiring such a massive amount of signatures from each district has never been achieved in Colorado—not even by the pro-Amendment 71 campaign. An effort this colossal would exclude nearly all grassroots initiatives from ever finding a place on the ballot.
Amendment 71’s language requires a supermajority vote for any future amendment to the constitution. This is contrary to the principle of majority rule, and will allow wealthy opposition interests to block reforms. Because the requirement applies to any amendment that changes even one word of the constitution, it will make changing current provisions—including school finance and taxes—nearly impossible.
Colorado Common Cause joins the Bell Policy Center, Denver Post, New Era Colorado, Conservation Colorado, and numerous other organizations in urging you to Vote No on Amendment 71 this November.
Office: Colorado Common Cause
Issues: Voting and Elections