Here is why I support changing the signature threshold requirements for ballot initiatives.
It is because of personhood.
Personhood has been on the ballot in 3 of the previous 4 even-numbered elections in Colorado. In the final weekend before the 2014 election, I knocked on doors supporting the No on 67 campaign.
Personhood is the radical notion that a fertilized egg becomes a person upon conception. The idea is so out there that Mississippi rejected it.
Yes, the liberal bastion of Mississippi in the deep south rejected personhood.
And in the three previous times that personhood made it to the ballot in Colorado it was rejected with over 60% of the vote. Even though it failed to qualify for the ballot in 2016, I expect it will return in 2018 due to their organizers not getting the message.
While I support the idea behind one of the provisions of Amendment 71, I cannot and urge my fellow Coloradans to not support it.
Here is the text of the proposed amendment with the portion highlighted on why I cannot support it:
Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution making it more difficult to amend the Colorado constitution by requiring that any petition for a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment be signed by at least 2 percent of the registered electors who reside in each state senate district for the amendment to be placed on the ballot and increasing the percentage of votes needed to pass any proposed constitutional amendment from a majority to at least fifty-five percent of the votes cast, unless the proposed constitutional amendment only repeals, in whole or in part, any provision of the constitution?
Raising the bar to a threshold to 55% is unnecessary. It should remain a simple majority (50%+1).
Had the proposed amendment remained without the threshold language, then I would be in support of this amendment because with personhood Colorado voters have said three times a resoundingly no and yet these groups continue to push for this measure. Apparently these groups have not gotten the message that Colorado does not want personhood. Perhaps requiring 2% of registered voters in the state’s 35 senate districts would provide a check valve of sorts to keep repeat measures from appearing on the ballot thus wasting everyone’s time.
There is also another pathway and more meaningful way to enact changes: The Colorado Legislature.
Utilizing the ballot initiative process should only be used in rare occasions and along with our legislature to make structural changes to our government when it is needed.
An argument I am hearing is that if this measure was to pass it would hinder grassroots activism, specifically liberal grassroots activism. Perhaps it would be wise for these types of organizations to not concentrate their main focus on amending the state’s constitution and instead turn their focus on working with legislators sympathetic to their causes and show up to the various lobby days that happen during the annual 120-day session.
Keeping the threshold for passing a ballot initiative at 50%+1 should remain because that is the standard for these types of elections. One side gets simple majority support, and that’s it. Making it more complicated than it really is invites skepticism into the process and I am concerned that raising the threshold to 55% would do that.
Thus, I advise to my fellow Colorado residents to Vote NO on Amendment 71.