Editorial: Yes on Referendum O
This Nov. 4, Colorado voters will be confronted not only with tough decisions on candidates, but with as many as 18 ballot questions, more than any other state. That’s a lot to consider while standing in a polling booth, which is why many voters are opting for mail-in balloting this year.
While many may simply hit the “no” button when confronted with all these amendments and referenda, they do require and demand the attention of voters. And several deserve a “yes” vote.
Among those deserving of support is Referendum O, which, if passed, would make the petition process for getting things on the ballot a little less simple.
It’s healthy to be skeptical of a measure that makes it harder for citizens to get initiatives on the ballot. But by raising the bar, we believe the interests of citizens will be better served. In part, voters will benefit by simply reducing the number of questions they have to confront every election. Voters will also be served because the present system in practice gives Front Range population centers too much power when it comes to voter initiatives.
Increasing the number of signatures required to place something on a ballot, which is a key component of Referendum O, ensures a larger segment of the state’s population supports it. In conjunction with the requirement that signatures must come from all of the state’s congressional districts ensures that issues are truly of import to the entire state. Under Referendum O, at least 8 percent of the minimum signatures required would need to be collected from each of the state’s seven congressional districts. As far as representative government goes, that’s just a fairer and better way to do it.
It’s worth noting the measure does lower the number of signature required to make changes through statute. For the most part, changing laws through statute initiative is a better solution than adding more clauses to the state’s constitution every time the political winds change.
Amending the state’s constitution isn’t a bad thing, but it should not be so simple or easy a process that bad government results. This referendum would tighten up the rules on Colorado’s initiative process, which at present is the least stringent in the country.
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