The Cheetos

More power in the hands of voters.

That must sound good to the people of Colorado, because more of them say they’re in favor of Amendment 38 than against it, according to the latest Rocky Mountain News/CBS4 poll. Of course, 29% are still undecided, and it could easily swing the other direction. But why would a plurality of voters back something that almost every major candidate on both sides of the aisle has come out against? The obvious answer is that the amendment purports to give more lawmaking power to citizens, and therefore less to legislators.

Opponents, including all Secretary of State candidates and both major gubernatorial candidates, say the amendment would result in ballots crowded with complicated measures that voters would find hard to analyze and decipher. There are other arguments, too. It could result in conflicting laws or budget problems. It undermines the authority of legislators (you know, those people we elect to make laws for us?). And, for the Beauprez camp, which eventually dumped its original support, it’s bad for business.

But there’s another reason why voters might want to think twice about hopping on the Independence Institute’s power-to-the-people bandwagon: Under Amendment 38, the Secretary of State would no longer verify petition signatures. That daunting task would be left to opponents of proposed initiatives, and it would be a race against the clock.

Let’s take a look at a hypothetical:

Amendment 38 is in effect, and a group of determined people decide they want to outlaw (to be neutral) all green clothing. They form committees and draw up three petitions. One says no green at all, another says lime green is OK, another makes a Monday-only exception. They now have 12 months, instead of the former six, to get the necessary 67,829 signatures (this year’s number for a statewide initiative) on each. But, they don’t get enough. Lucky for them, Amendment 38 lets them roll the signatures over to the next election! The next year they get enough signatures and turn them in. The Secretary of State accepts the petitions and waits to see if there are objections to any of the 203,487 total signatures. The pro-green people now have 10 measly days (instead of the former 30 days after the SOS verifies them) to independently verify the signatures

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Kerri Rebresh

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