Amendment 71, Requirements for Initiated Constitutional Amendments Explained

Amendment 71 would make it harder for citizen-backed state constitutional amendments to get on Election Day ballots. Supporters say amending one of Colorado’s foundational documents should be harder than it is and that state lawmakers should be more willing to legislate on issues that often get pushed to ballot questions. Opponents says ballot questions are democracy at work in one of its purest forms and that making it harder to get on the ballot flies in the face of citizens exercising their rights.

As things stand now, people and organizations seeking to get a question on the ballot must gather enough qualified signatures to equal 5 percent of the number of votes cast for the Secretary of State in the previous election. If the question gets on the ballot, it can be passed by a simple majority, or 50 percent plus 1 of voters. Getting on the ballot here in Colorado can cost more than $1 million, but it’s cheaper than many other states.

Amendment 71 would require that signatures be gathered from 2 percent of registered voters in all of Colorado’s 35 state Senate districts; right now it’s possible to gather enough signatures for a statewide ballot measure without ever leaving Denver or another urban area. The amendment would also require that 55 percent of voters approve a measure, rather than just a simple majority.