In Colorado, voters have incredible power to pass laws at the ballot. The initiative process was born out of the Progressive Era. Reformers hoped that by giving people a say in state government, they could check special interests and their influence over lawmakers. Things haven't gone exactly as planned. Today, the initiative process is often Colorado's highest-stakes political poker game, attracting a wide range of corporations and wealthy donors. So has direct democracy made Colorado voters into scientists in the laboratory of democracy? Or the test subjects?

This episode was produced by Sam Brasch.

“The Album Leaf,” "Massive Attack," “Mont Blanc” and “Little Black Cloud” by Podington Bear are licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0

Additional music by Brad Turner and Matt Weesner.