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Colorado ballot will include amendment to increase difficulty of amending state constitution

August 16, 2016 Updated: August 17, 2016 at 6:13 am
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Former Colorado state Senator Greg Brophy compares the U.S. Constitution to the Colorado constitution. (Stephanie Alderton / Fort Morgan Times)

Colorado voters will be asked to amend the state constitution this fall to make it harder to amend the foundational document.

The irony of that statement isn't lost on those who submitted enough signatures to the Secretary of State's Office to put the question on the November ballot.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams' office confirmed Tuesday that the issue would be on the ballot in November after taking a random sample of 5 percent of the signatures and verifying they are from valid registered Colorado voters.

When Greg Brophy turned in dozens of boxes full of petitions, he said that his team tried its best to qualify under the requirements the new ballot measure is proposing.

For example, now it's only required that a petition circulatory gather at least 5 percent of the number of votes cast in the previous secretary of state's race. There were more than 1.92 million ballots cast in the race when Williams was elected in 2014.

If the ballot measure is approved by voters, petition gatherers would be required to get valid signatures from at least 2 percent of the registered voting population in each of the state's 35 state Senate districts.

Brophy said two weeks ago that his group, "Raise the Bar," gathered signatures in each of the 35 districts and that for some rural districts on the eastern plains it was the first time signature gatherers had visited the area. It's common practice now for signature gatherers to target dense populations where voters quickly can be found.

The proposition, which is likely to be Amendment 71 on the ballot, also would raise the requirement for voter approval of an amendment from a simple majority to 55 percent.

Two other constitutional amendments will be on the ballot: Amendment 69 would create a universal health care system, and Amendment 70 would raise the state minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020.

Additionally, a proposition made the ballot that would change state statute (not the constitution) to allow doctors to prescribe fatal drugs to a patient who is terminally ill.

Those four questions could be joined by several more. The secretary of state is verifying signatures that have been turned in.

Groups are trying to get questions that would create mandatory setbacks from occupied buildings for oil and gas operators, reinstate a presidential preference primary, allow municipalities to have final say on oil and gas operations, open primary elections to unaffiliated voters and increase the state's tobacco tax.

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