Everybody Hates 38

A Rocky Mountain News poll showed no ballot measure less favored by fewer voters going into election session than Amendment 38, which expands petition rights.  Only 39% of voters favored the measure in early September and support for ballot measures tends to wane as elections approach.Every newspaper in the state opposes Amendment 38.  The Rocky took the unusual step of denouncing it twice.  The Colorado Muncipal League had made opposing Amendment 38 a priority.  So does the Colorado Association of Business and Industry, the state’s big business lobby.  More organizations opposing it are listed hereDenver Republicans oppose it.

Mike Keefe’s editorial cartoon on the subject envisions a Colorado buried under a landfill of citizen’s initiatives.  The Result Will Be Chaos proclaims the “No” campaign with a subcaption “Don’t Let Them Hurt Colorado.”

The pro-38 radio spot that recent hit Denver airwaves would have you believe that this opposition is a vast bipartisan conspiracy of corrupt politicians, and perhaps backers Dennis Polhill and Douglas Campbell believe it.  Perpetual petitioner Doug Bruce was a co-author.

The “them” that the “no” campaign mentions it identifies as “special interests and perpetual petitioners” and it highlights the requirement that voters get government paid information about ballot measures. 

One can argue that the campaign slogan really ought to be “Don’t Let Us Hurt Colorado.”, since voters must eventually pass the measures for them to do much harm, but the consensus opinion in Colorado is that ballot measures have already made the ballot too long and the election process too cumbersome.  They don’t want to go the way of Switzerland, where in some localities, even every single citizenship application goes to the voters.

The “no” campaign also notes defeats for similar measures in 1994 and 1996.  But, past performance is no predictor of future performance.  TABOR lost several times before voters eventually approved it by a narrow margin.

Another of the controversial requirements is to lower the number of signatures required to get a measure on the ballot and to make it much harder to challenge signatures on petitions, even though past experience has shown that often a third to a half of petition signatures collected or more are invalid.

This is a particular concern in the local governments to which the measure expands initiative rights, where a very small absolute number of signatures could get a measure on the ballot.

Previous coverage of the measure at Colorado Confidential can be found here.

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