Our view: Vote ‘yes’ on Amendment 71
October 4, 2016
Voters are being asked to vote in favor of a constitutional amendment that would make it harder to amend the Colorado constitution.
The constitution is a sacred document, and Amendment 71 ensures the constitution cannot be altered easily by special interest groups.
Colorado voters are faced with a long string of amendments and propositions to decide this November, and among those, is Amendment 71.
If approved, the measure would toughen the requirements to amend the Colorado Constitution, and based on the number of amendments that have been placed on the ballot through citizen initiatives this fall, we think that's proof enough that the process could stand some more rigor.
Under state law, citizens in Colorado have the power to propose changes to the state constitution through a citizen-initiative process. Currently, that process involves collecting enough signatures to equal at least 5 percent of the votes cast in the most recent Secretary of State election — in 2016, that threshold was 98,492 signatures.
It could be considered ironic that Amendment 71 made it to the ballot via citizen initiative, and if approved, it would amend the state constitution to make amending the state constitution more difficult. But regardless of how you look at it, we think Amendment 71 deserves a "yes" vote.
The amendment does not propose to change the process for citizen initiatives but rather adds a requirement that signatures must be collected statewide and also increases the percentage of votes required to change the state constitution.
Amendment 71 would change signature requirements so, that of the total required signatures, some must be collected from each of the state's 35 Senate districts, amounting to at least 2 percent of the registered voters in each district.
Additionally, Amendment 71 would change the percent of the vote required to adopt changes to the constitution. Currently, only a simple majority of votes is needed to adopt a constitutional change, but under Amendment 71, that would change to 55 percent of votes cast.
In our opinion, it's currently too easy for groups with special interest agendas to launch an initiative campaign to get an amendment on the ballot. Colorado is currently one of only 14 states that allows qualifying initiatives to go directly to the ballot. Many other states require initiatives to be submitted to the legislature first.
All too often, groups can get the signatures they need by canvassing the urban areas of the state, basically ignoring the interests of Colorado's more rural areas that have smaller populations. Amendment 71 would ensure that all Coloradans, regardless of where they live, have a voice in whether or not an amendment that would change the state's constitution makes the ballot.
In a state with such diverse regional interests, it only seems right to require signature gatherers to secure support from around Colorado and to raise the percentage of the vote required to pass an amendment once it makes it to the ballot.
Over the years, in its editorials, the Steamboat Pilot & Today has advocated for making it tougher to change the state constitution through ballot initiatives, and we think Amendment 71 will get that done. We encourage citizens to educate themselves on the issue, and we think once they do, they'll join us in voting "yes" on Amendment 71.