In what could be interpreted as an indictment against the rush to referendum, only one of the nine amendments on this year’s ballot were approved by Colorado voters on Tuesday.
Amendment Q, which sets up a process for temporarily relocating state government from Denver during a declared state of emergency, was approved by Colorado voters by a margin of 57-43 percent. In Archuleta County, the initiative was approved by voters with a slender majority — 50.55 in favor, 49.45 against.
The only other amendment approved by Archuleta County voters was Amendment 63, which would have made health care optional for Colorado residents (in defiance of President Obama’s Healthcare Reform Bill of 2010), an amendment that would have certainly been met with a Supreme Court challenge had it passed at the statewide level. While local voters approved the amendment by a 55-45 percent margin, Colorado voters defeated it with 53 percent against and 47 percent in favor.
Otherwise, Archuleta County voters pretty much saw eye-to-eye with Colorado voters and rejected the rest of the proposed amendments and initiatives.
Probably the most contentious items on the ballot — the so-called “Evil 3” (Amendments 60 and 61, Proposition 101) — were soundly defeated statewide, with narrower margins in the county.
Amendment 60 would have reduced property taxes by 25 percent and made it difficult to raise property taxes. Supporters of the amendment, stating the obvious, said that 60 would not only save property owners money, but would force state government to reduce its size. Opponents claimed 60 would radically slash services provided by the state — education, roads, prisons, among many others — hurting Colorado residents while giving out-of-state an unfair economic advantage.
Voters statewide soundly defeated the measure with a 75-25 percent margin while, in Archuleta County, 60 was rejected with about 40 percent for the amendment and 60 percent opposed.
A measure that would have prohibited the state from borrowing money, while severely limiting the ability of municipalities to similarly borrow (setting narrow time constraints on bond issuance) Amendment 61 was likewise rejected, with 73 percent of voters against and 23 percent for in the statewide vote. 45 percent of voters in Archuleta County approved of Amendment 61 with 55 percent opposed.
Supporters of 61 said the measure would merely demand that state and local governments pursue only those projects they could afford with cash on hand, while opponents stated that the measure would hobble municipalities and the state’s ability to adequately fund large infrastructure needs or repairs.
Proposition 101 would have slashed all fees for vehicle registration to just $10 while reducing the state income tax rate by 22 percent. Proponents argued that the fees were a way by which the state had skirted TABOR restrictions, while reducing income taxes for all Colorado residents. Opponents claimed that, like Amendment 60, a 25 percent reduction in revenue would create untenable budget situations throughout the state.
Statewide, voters opposed 101 by a margin of 68-32 percent, with Archuleta County opposing the measure 53 percent to 47 percent.
Attracting national media attention, Amendment 62 (the so-called “Personhood Amendment”) would have defined a “person” from the moment a human egg was fertilized and would have assigned that fertilized egg all human rights endowed to Colorado citizens. As such, the measure would have banned all forms of abortion (even in cases of rape, incest or when a pregnancy endangered the life of a mother), as well as many forms of birth control — for instance, under 62 a woman taking the “morning after” pill could conceivably be charged with first-degree murder.
In the county, voters rejected 62 by a 59-41 percent margin; statewide the measure fell by a 71-29 percent margin.
A measure to move licensing of bingo and raffles from the Secretary of State to the State Department of Revenue (where all other games of chance are regulated), Amendment P, was defeated by Colorado voters 62 to 38 percent, with voters in Archuleta County rejecting the measure by a margin of 66 percent to 34 percent.
Amendment R would have eliminated property taxes for individuals or businesses using government-owned property for a private benefit worth $6,000 or less in market value. Colorado voters rejected the measure 62-38 percent, the same margin by which it was defeated in Archuleta County.
Finally, Proposition 102 would have required bond for anyone arrested unless the offense was a first offense as well as being a nonviolent offense. The measure was defeated by Colorado voters 62-38 percent with the margin being 56 percent against and 44 percent in favor with Archuleta County voters.
With Amendments 60, 61 and 62 and Proposition 101 being so decisively defeated by Colorado voters (an amendment almost identical to 62 was defeated in 2008 by a 73-27 margin) and with eight out of nine ballot measures being defeated, it will be interesting to see if Colorado citizens will be more inclined to pursue their issues through the legislative process rather than taking those matters directly to the voters.
A relatively streamlined ballot in 2012 would suggest that lesson was learned, while a ballot encumbered with numerous measures would indicate business as usual in Colorado.