Marijuana initiative signatures to get line by line review

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office announced today that after reviewing a random sample of signatures turned in by supporters of marijuana legalization measure Initiative 30 it will be necessary to review all 163,598 signatures.

According to state law, 86,105 valid signatures are required to place an initiative on the ballot this year. Also, according to statute, the Secretary of State’s office most conduct a line by line review of 5 percent of the signatures turned in, which was 8180 signatures. Having done that, if the random sample projects that the total number of valid signatures is between 90 percent and 110 percent of the number needed, then all signatures must by reviewed. Above or below those thresholds, the Secretary of State can project whether enough signatures were collected based on the sample.

In this case, just over 54 percent of the signatures in the random sample were judged to be valid, meaning that extrapolated out over the 163,598 signatures collected, it can be predicted that 88,719 valid signatures were collected, which is 103.4 percent of the number needed, which puts in the range that triggers an automatic line by line review.

Mason Tvert, one of the organizers of The measure to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, says the need to validate each signature is no big deal.

“This is just part of the process,” he said. “We are confident that we collected more than enough valid signatures to make the ballot. This is why initiative campaigns collect so many more signatures than they need.”

The Secretary of State’s office has until February 3 to complete the review. Spokesperson Rich Coolidge said the office “will be cranking to get it done.”

He said that at the end of the review, if the number of signatures certified is below the number needed, organizers would have the chance to collect more. He said it is rare for the office to conduct a line by line review. More commonly, he said groups collect either enough to meet the 110 percent threshold or less than enough to trigger the review.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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