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Category: Colorado (page 1 of 3)

“Colorful Colorado”: State Redistricting Maps In The 2020 Election

By: Weston Zeike

“Colorful Colorado” is one nickname of the “Centennial State.” Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that the state has been making headlines on the way it decided to color in its maps during the 2020 redistricting process.

Redistricting reform has received increasing attention in recent years, with Colorado being no exception to the national trend. In 2018, Colorado voters amended the Colorado Constitution to task an independent redistricting commission with drawing lines. Requiring 55% of the vote while receiving over 70%, these amendments gave the new independent redistricting commission authority to draw both state and congressional lines. Three years after the vote (and only months after the release of the requisite decennial census data release), we have a final congressional redistricting plan drawn by the commission.

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Retweet: Colorado Secretary of State Urges Careful Election Night Reporting

By Anna Pesetski

In a Twitter thread on October 1, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold encouraged news outlets to abstain from reporting the results of the presidential election on the night of the election. In her tweets, Griswold stated that this is an “unprecedented election” and “call[ed] on national media networks to pledge to #PressPause for democracy” by refraining from making projections or reporting results on election night. She quickly received backlash for these statements from both sides of the political spectrum. Fox News host Laura Ingraham, a conservative, stated that “[i]t’s not up to her to say what the media or anyone else says on election night.” Colorado state senator Steve Fenberg, the Democratic majority leader, tweeted “[t]his will only cause mass confusion and creates an opening for reckless behavior from the President. Demanding journalists to withhold verifiable facts or rational projections is counter to how a free democracy works.” 

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Return to Sender: Colorado’s Response to Controversial Election Mailer

By: Anna Pesetski

COVID-19 has spurred a whole host of challenges in 2020 and the upcoming presidential election in November is no exception to these challenges. Given the concerns with voters travelling to the polls to cast their ballots in person, many states have opted for voting by mail. In response to the surge in mail-in voting, the United States Postal Service circulated a mailer to all fifty states and the District of Columbia containing information about the process of voting by mail. Top election officials in states across the nation have expressed concerns and frustrations with the mailer because its content conflicts with state election laws, likely causing voter confusion. The mailer has sparked controversy among Democrats, who have communicated growing fears that these mailers have been distributed out of political bias because of President Trump’s aversion to voting by mail. These fears have been exacerbated by the fact that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has made large donations to the president’s campaign. Continue reading

The Dollars Behind Direct Democracy

By: Emily Hessler

On November 8, Colorado voters will decide whether to approve a hotly contested measure––Initiative 71––that would make it more difficult to get initiatives on the state’s ballot and to pass proposed constitutional amendments. The so-called “raise the bar” amendment would require that, in order for a constitutional initiative to make it onto the ballot, two percent of voters in each of Colorado’s thirty-five state senate districts sign the supporting petition. Initiative 71 would also require that constitutional initiatives receive fifty-five percent voter approval to pass.

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Taking the Initiative: Coloradans Set to Vote on Proposal to Limit Ballot Initiatives and Constitutional Amendments

By: Emily Hessler

Coloradans looking to limit the number of citizen initiatives on the state’s ballots are using an unlikely tool to achieve their goal: the citizen initiative. Supporters argue that a proposed measure on November’s ballot––Initiative 71––would “raise the bar” by making it more difficult to get citizen initiatives on Colorado’s ballots and by increasing the percentage of votes required to amend the state’s constitution.

Under Article V of the Colorado Constitution, the ballot initiative is a power “the people reserve to themselves.” Pursuant to this constitutional provision, Colorado citizens can petition to include proposals on general election ballots for new legislation––statutory initiatives––or for constitutional amendments––constitutional initiatives. Twenty-four states allow initiatives, but only sixteen permit that constitutional initiatives go directly on the ballot without first being presented to the legislature.

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Election Law Program Pilots Three Online Platforms of State Election Codes in Colorado, Florida and Virginia

Wondering what the Virginia election code has to say about campaign volunteers and others at the polls? Want context on statutes that govern when voter registration ends in Florida? Curious about how Colorado election statutes impact voter registration lists?

In advance of next month’s election, the Election Law Program, a joint project of William & Mary Law School and the National Center for State Courts, is piloting three online platforms of state election codes in Colorado, Florida and Virginia. Teams of election experts have annotated their state’s election code to give context for how the law operates in these states. In addition, case law, regulations, advisory opinions, and administrative guidance are linked to relevant statutes to provide a full picture of how election codes in Colorado, Florida, and Virginia function.

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Bloated Voter Registration Rolls in Colorado Counties Could Support Implementation of Stricter Voting Requirements

By: Eric Speer

In late August 2015, the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving election integrity, found that 10 counties in Colorado have over-inflated voter rolls. Pitkin, Mineral, Hinsdale, San Juan, Ouray, Summit, Dolores, San Miguel, Cheyenne and Boulder Counties were found to have more voters registered than people eligible to vote. This over inflation violates the National Voter Registration Act, which requires “states to keep voter registration lists accurate and current, such as identifying persons who have become ineligible due to having died or moved outside the jurisdiction.”

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Ballot Initiatives for Marijuana Legalization Track Public Opinion

By Hannah Whiteker

Fans of direct democracy should be excited about the increased use of state ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana use. Direct democracy  allows citizens to enact and change laws, instead of electing representatives to make important decisions for them. One of the ways that the United States utilizes direct democracy is through state ballot initiatives. If a group of voters wants to get an initiative on the ballot to pass a law in their state (there is no initiative process for federal elections), the group must first get enough voters to sign a petition supporting the initiative. The number of signatures required varies by state. If the group satisfies the signature requirement, the initiative is put on the ballot for the next statewide election to be voted on by the people.

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Colorado School Board Recall Election Raises Questions about Campaign Finance Disclosures and the Role of Outside Money

By: Eric Speer

A county school board recall election in Colorado has brought focus once again to the influence of outside “dark money” on local political races. And campaign finance observers say that much of it will never be traced back to its source because of a confluence between IRS reporting regulations and a 2002 amendment to the Colorado constitution.

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Colorado Recall Election Highlights Voter Suppression

Last month, two state senators lost their positions in hotly contested recall elections. As well as bringing further attention to the ongoing national gun debate, it these elections also highlighted claims of voter suppression. A major concern came from District Judge Robert McGahey’s ruling allowing two Colorado Libertarians on the recall ballot. The effect of this ruling in essence meant that Colorado voters could no longer use mail-ballots to a cast a vote in this election, despite the fact that the General Assembly passed House Bill 13-1303 in early August. Continue reading

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