A seemingly simple vote to eliminate an archaic and offensive reference to slavery as punishment for crimes in the Colorado Constitution may be doomed by a lack of clarity.
It seemed like a no-brainer, but a week after the vote, the confusingly written amendment is on the cusp of failing and lawmakers may be to blame.
The constitution was adopted before President Ulysses S. Grant proclaimed Colorado a state in 1876. It declares that "there shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime."
Colorado's Legislature placed a measure to eliminate that language on the ballot. But a book explaining ballot measures to voters included arguments against it — even though there was no organized opposition.
Out of nearly 2.3 million ballots cast, "No" is leading. It's possible the margin will be so close that the state will conduct a recount.
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