More accusations of fraud against ‘Right-To-Work’ ballot question

As was reported by Colorado Confidential in late April, opponents of a so-called "right-to-work" measure that would change rules for establishing unions in Colorado workplaces are expected to further scrutinize petition signatures that were used to put the measure on the 2008 state ballot.

The proposed "right-to-work" law would effectively ban collective bargaining agreements between unions and employers that require dues or, minimally, agency fees from non-members for benefits they gain from labor representation.

Federal law already prohibits "closed shops" or compulsory union membership in the workplace.

When the "right-to-work" measure (now titled Amendment 47) was first certified by the secretary of state’s office last month, a member of Protect Colorado’s Future, a committee opposing the ballot question, indicated that the group would conduct a detailed analysis of all the petition signatures. Under state law 76,000 valid petition signatures from Colorado voters are required to put an initiative on the ballot. Amendment 47 supporters submitted approximately 136,000 signatures in April.

Now Protect Colorado’s Future, after examining pages of signatures, may be ready to launch a complaint similar to one that was recently filed by affirmative action supporters who challenged petition signatures for a measure that would terminate affirmative action programs in the state, claiming that upon through examination, many signatures were not signed by registered voters or even real people. Jesus Christ was reported to have signed the anti-affirmative action question twice.

Protect Colorado’s Future already filed a formal complaint with the secretary of state’s office last month accusing hired "right-to-work" petition circulators of committing fraud for telling potential signers that they they didn’t have to be registered to vote in order to sign, that they could sign the petition if they were going to register later and that those who had already signed the petition could sign it again — all of which are illegal under the state’s laws regulating voting petitions, according to the complaint. The opponents also provided audio recordings and transcripts backing up their case.

Naturally, Amendment 47 supporters deny the allegations of fraud, instead painting the fraud criticisms as desperate tactics to keep the initiative off the ballot.

Either way, its looking more and more likely that the future of Amendment 47 will be in the hands of state officials, or even a district judge if a complaint is filed in court as expected.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.

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