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Petitions: Should You Sign?


It's petition season! 
Various groups are out circulating petitions to place their proposals on the ballot.

Should you sign “just to get it on the ballot so people can vote on it"?
This reasoning is inadequate. Your signature is as valuable as your vote.

The LWV recommends . . .

Whose idea is it? Check for names of sponsors. Statewide Colorado proposals are tracked here (initiatives) and here (referendums) by the Secretary of State's office.

Is the issue complex?
Some issues can be decided by a simple “yes” or “no” vote, but complex issues may be better examined and debated in a legislative arena before writing onto a ballot. Some initiatives are not well written, or contain conflicts that may require court resolution or interpretations. If written into law, the inevitable clarification of legalese costs taxpayers. 

Is the circulator identified? All signature gatherers are required to wear a badge that identifies them as  “volunteer circulator” or “paid circulator”. If the signature gatherer is not wearing a badge, do not sign. If s/he is a paid circulator, the badge should also give the name and phone number of the sponsor.

How will it be funded? An unfunded mandate, or a recall of an elected official who will be up for reelection soon anyway, may impact other essential programs by diverting funds. The public may believe in the premise, but doesn’t realize the reallocated funding could cause other problems.

Does it belong in the Constitution?
If an initiative intends to amend the state Constitution, consider whether it really belongs there. Is it a fundamental law that should be protected from change? Correcting a constitutional amendment requires another constitutional amendment—and another vote of the people—which is cumbersome and costly.