Denver voters weigh in on vehicle impound ballot initiative

Initiative 100 on the Denver ballot would force police officers to impound vehicles of people driving without licenses. Drivers would be subject to a $2,500 fine, which they forfeit if someone without a license is caught driving the vehicle within a year. Brought forward by Arvada resident Daniel Hayes, the initiative specifically mentions "illegal alien" drivers as a target of the proposal. Immigrants rights activists and members of Denver’s faith community organized against the initiative, raising around $30,000 to defeat the proposal. Tonight, voters decide whether the initiative passes.

8:45 p.m.

Over here at the headquarters for the Colorado Immigrants Rights Coalition, the Committee to Defeat 100 is hopeful that the initiative will be defeated, especially because the numbers are very slow to roll in. Here are the results so far, which are largely in favor of the initiative.

Yes: 22,866 – 59%

No: 15,473 – 40%

8:57 p.m.

With the initiative’s detractors reluctant to call the election, CIRC director Julien Ross and city councilor Paul Lopez are discussing writing two press releases, one in case the initiative passes, the other in case it fails. Councilor Rick Garcia is also in attendance; the two helped spearhead an effort to quash the initiative.

9:04 p.m.

The anti-Initative 100 crowd starts to review the other election results. CIRC director Julien Ross is scrolling through a computer screen, looking at the Congressional District 6 tally, which points to Mike Coffman as the clear winner. "Want to see the person replacing Tancredo?" he says, pointing to the screen so the others in the room can see.

9:11 p.m.

Councilor Paul Lopez is talking strategy regarding a press release to explain the Committee to Defeat 100’s stance on what appears to be a successful proposal. Lopez and others in the room are emphasizing the fact that the ballot language didn’t say anything about "illegal aliens," even though the text of the initiative that was presented to City Council did. It is misleading, says Lopez, scribbling a message on a piece of paper that will be released to the media later this evening.

Things are still looking grim for the anti-100 team. Here are the latest numbers:

Yes: 23,937 – 58%

No: 17,008 – 41%

9:21 p.m.

The anti-100 team is waxing thoughtful about the campaign, with Julien Ross saying that the campaign against the initiative forged coalitions between otherwise disparate groups, including police officers, Denver’s faith leaders, and the immigrants rights groups. Councilor Paul Lopez leaves briefly, but not before congratulating those in the room for an excellent effort, one that will continue should the initiative pass, as the proposal will surely face many legal questions.

9:36 p.m.

The initiative’s main backer, Daniel Hayes, does not immediately respond to a phone call request for comment. Over here at the Colorado Immigrants Rights Coalition, the anti-100 crowd won’t concede that the initiative has passed, especially because only 19% of precincts are reporting. But the numbers hover around 60% for and 40% against it. CIRC director Julien Ross reminds the press release drafters to talk about the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

10:14 p.m.

Most of the anti-100 crowd has left the CIRC office, calling it a night even though many more precincts have yet to report. Here’s the tally:

Yes: 26,988 – 55%

No: 21,412 – 44%