Liveblog: Colorado ballot amendment results

Early results are starting to trickle in for Colorado’s record slate of 10 ballot amendments and four referenda, and just as the latest polling numbers indicated, it’s not looking good for controversial measures ranging from a personhood (or egg-as-a-person) amendment to a slew of right-to-work measures to an anti-affirmative action amendment critics claim was deceptively worded.

UPDATE: Eight of 10 constitutional amendments fail. See below for details.

8:48 p.m. – With less than 20 percent of the vote tallied, CNN is reporting Amendment 46, the anti-affirmative action measure, was trailing by a slim margin of 52 to 48 percent with 25 percent of the vote in, a figure that hasn’t budged much all evening.

Amendment 48, the personhood amendment that would define a fertilized egg as a human being with constitutional rights, was being rejected by voters by an overwhelming margin of 75 to 25 percent with 25 percent of the vote in.

David O. Williams

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9:00 – Amendment 50, a gaming initiative that would allow Colorado’s three gambling towns –- Cripple Creek, Blackhawk and Central City –- to up their limits from $5 a bet to $100, to expand hours and to add more games, looked poised for victory by a margin of 58 to 42 percent with 24 percent of the vote in. Some of the proceeds would benefit the state’s community college system.

David O. Williams

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9:15 p.m. – With roughly 25 percent of the vote in, several ballot measures are in tight straits and appear to be on the way to failing.

Amendments 47, 49 and 54 pitted a strange bedfellows coalition of labor and business interests against conservative, anti-tax forces led primarily by the Independence Institute.

Amendment 47 would have restricted labor organizing in Colorado by banning collective-bargaining agreements between unions and businesses that require minimal agency fees from non-member employees who receive union-negotiated benefits in the workplace. It is currently failing 55-44.

Attempting to prohibit unions from collecting member dues and agency fees through government payroll deductions, Amendment 49, and a companion measure, Amendment 54, that would prevent unions officers and government vendors from making political contributions: The former is failing by a whopping 19 points, 59-40, while the latter is reporting at a less comfortable loss margin, 52-48.

Wendy Norris

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9:23 p.m. – Coloradans must have been in a foul mood this election season. Eight of 10 ballot measures are going down in defeat. The only two passing at this point are: Amendment 50 to increase gaming limits (58-41) and the anti-labor Amendment 54 (50-49).

Wendy Norris

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9:31 p.m. – CNN is reporting fascinating exit polls on Amendment 48. Two-thirds of men opposed the measure -– a higher margin than women, who were more directly affected by the Colorado for Equal Rights’ broader aim (intended or not) to end abortion and curb contraceptive use. People over the age of 65 voted against the proposal at higher margins than young people. Stay tuned for more analysis.

Wendy Norris

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9:55 p.m. – A pair of amendments that dealt with the state’s oil-and-gas severance tax are going down in flames with just under 40 percent of the votes counted. Amendment 52, a constitutional measure that would have kept the severance tax (lowest among major energy-producing state) the same but dedicated those funds to Interstate 70 improvements is trailing by a whopping 62 to 38 percent with 37 percent of the votes in.

Amendment 58, a statutory measure that would have upped the severance tax and generated another $321 million a year in funds for higher education scholarships, wildlife protection and renewable energy projects, is trailing 43 percent to 57 percent, also with 37 percent of the vote in.

Amendment 52 was criticized as a diversionary tactic put forth by three pro-energy lawmakers to undercut 58, which was met by a wave of opposition cash (more than $11 million) put up by major oil companies. Even many Republicans opposed 52 because it would have taken funds from water projects. Some Democrats opposed 58 because they felt it didn’t give enough money back to local communities on the Western Slope hardest hit by the natural-gas boom.

David O. Williams

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10:05 p.m. – Advocates for the developmentally disabled were stunningly defeated 61-38 to add a fraction of a cent to sales and use taxes in order to eliminate years-long wait lists for supportive services via Amendment 51. Opponents claimed that with the national economy in tatters the timing was poor and the addition of a constitutional amendment was inappropriate.

Wendy Norris

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10:23 p.m. – An effort, led by California businessman Ward Connerly, to repeal statewide affirmative action programs, has clung to a tenuous margin of defeat all evening. It is currently going down 51-48 with 36 percent of precincts reporting. The controversial measure sought to end preferential treatment for women and minorities in public contracting, hiring and education to address decades of institutional discrimination. Foes complained that petition circulators misled voters into signing onto the measure to place it on the ballot.

Wendy Norris

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10:25 – Amendment 59, which was aimed at fixing a vexing school funding problem created by Amendment 23 in 2000, was shot down by a resounding 56-44 margin. Backed by outgoing Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff and state treasurer Cary Kennedy, 59 would have essentially created a savings account in good economic times to be spent during downturns. The original Amendment 23 required funding increases to keep pace with national averages on school spending but it’s caused major cuts to other state programs.

David O. Williams

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11:39 p.m. –Kelley Harp, spokesman for the Yes on Amendment 47 campaign, released the following statement:

The proponents of Amendment 47 are driven by principle and believe that this was a battle worth fighting. We all strongly feel that freedom is our greatest asset in this country, and we continue to believe that Amendment 47 was a principled measure grown from our appreciation of individual liberty. It’s always better to fight for what you think is right and not be successful, than to never fight at all. Amendment 47 would have promoted individual liberty and empowered the individual worker. Fighting for these principles is always worth it, and it is a fight that will continue.

We have great respect for the democratic process, and we respect the will of the voters.

The outcome, we feel, was unfortunate, but we are comforted in knowing that we took a principled stand and fought for it until the end.

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