July 2024


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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Think Before You Ink

Signing Petitions is Not Necessarily a Civic Duty

The League of Women Voters of Larimer County encourages its members and the public to be cautious when asked to sign initiative petitions.

Especially as election season approaches, voters will be asked to sign a variety of initiative petitions “just to get it on the ballot so people can vote on it. ” This reasoning is inadequate; your signature should be considered at least as valuable as your vote. Far fewer signatures are required to qualify a petition for the ballot than votes to pass it on the ballot.

To help you decide whether or not to sign a petition, the League of Women Voters offers these points to consider:

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

Whose idea is it? You can find out the real sponsors and opponents of a petition drive:

Contribution and expenditure reports are available through the Election Center at the Secretary of State’s Office at 303-894-2200 or at www.sos.state.co.us.

Larimer County Clerk’s Office, 970-498-7922

Loveland City Clerk, 970-962-2322

Fort Collins City Clerk, 970-221-6515

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  he or she is a paid circulator, the badge should also give the name and phone number of who hired her/him.

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 budgets. The public may have believed in the premise, but didn’t realize the funding would cause other problems.

Does it belong in the Constitution? If an initiative intends to amend the U. S. or state Constitution, consider whether it really belongs there. Is is 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.

The League of Women Voters of Larimer County is a grassroots, nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government to build better communities statewide. More information can be found on the website at www.LWVColorado.org.

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