A broad and diverse coalition of statewide organizations, including the Colorado Chamber, is opposing recent decisions to change the way people and organizations can access the Colorado ballot. This coalition represents interests including rural, urban, suburban and mountain communities, our state’s smallest businesses to some of our largest employers, and a variety of industries, like agriculture, education, energy, construction and housing.
On May 15, Gov. Jared Polis issued Executive Order D 2020 065, which suspends a number of laws related to signature collection and ballot qualification for elections and orders the Secretary of State’s Office to develop rules for electronic and mail signature gathering. The Executive Order is being legally challenged. Our concerns are as follows:
- The Executive Order violates our state constitution.
Only we, the voters of Colorado, can amend our state’s constitution and no individual elected official or office can change what we as citizens decide, even during challenging times. Colorado’s citizen-led ballot initiative process has been a cornerstone of our state’s democratic process since 1910. Our concerns extend to all ballot initiatives under consideration, both now and in the future. Once electronic and mail signature gathering are allowed, it is unlikely to change in future elections even after our current national health emergency ends.
- The Executive Order creates inequities to ballot access and participation in the process for the citizens of our state.
The proposed process excludes many Coloradans from participation, either because they don’t have access or can’t afford internet service or technology, like computers, printers and smart phones. A smaller group of Coloradans with access to these resources would have an unfair advantage to put their issues on the ballot, leaving many of our state’s rural communities, older adults and people experiencing poverty out of our election process. As history has shown, it’s times like these when the temptation to overstep in response and damage our democracy is the greatest. We must enforce established boundaries on executive authority and protect our state’s constitution.
- The process outlined in the state constitution works, even during a pandemic.
The process in place today provides clear access to the ballot as evidenced by the fact that two citizen-initiated ballot issues have already qualified for this year’s November ballot. Additional campaigns have publicly indicated that they are actively, safely and successfully collecting signatures currently, putting into question the necessity of the executive order. If in-person signature gathering is unsafe, why doesn’t the executive order ban it? You can safely sign a receipt in person when you’re shopping or accepting a delivery. We should be able to figure out how to allow voters to sign a document in person, especially when these signatures are so critical to a fair and equitable election.