The process of proposing an initiative

The Colorado Statesman

Proponents of an initiative must submit their ballot measure to the Colorado title board for a hearing before it is deemed eligible for signature gathering.

The title board is comprised of designees by the attorney general, the secretary of state, and the director of the Office of Legislative Legal Services.

At the April 4 hearing, the title board consisted of Solicitor General Dan Domenico, Deputy Director of the Office of Legislative Legal Services Sharon L. Eubanks, and Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert.

During the hearing, the title board’s job is to make sure the proposed initiative concerns only a single subject and to set the language that will appear on the ballot. The title board does not concern itself with the merits of the initiative.

After the board approves an initiative’s title, its proponents have six months to collect the required signatures.

To be certified for the ballot this year, initiatives must receive 86,105 valid signatures from eligible Colorado voters. The number changes with each election cycle, as it is based off of the number of votes cast in the previous election’s secretary of state’s race.

Proponents must submit the notarized signatures by the August 6th deadline to be approved by the secretary of state’s office.

After receiving the signatures, the secretary of state’s office conducts random samples to check their validity.

If the sampling projects that less than 90 percent of the signatures would be valid, the initiative fails. If the projection predicts more than 110 percent accuracy, the initiative is immediately granted ballot access.

The secretary of state’s office checks the signatures line-by-line if the projection falls somewhere in between 90 and 110 percent.

Each year, the Colorado Legislative Council produces the Blue Book.

The booklet, which is mailed to voters statewide, provides arguments for and against, as well as an assessment of the potential fiscal impact of every initiative on the ballot, as well as referred measures from the Legislature.

Solicitor General Dan Domenico said that the title board’s limited role in the initiative process usually results in unanimous agreement among the board members. He said the majority of the debate that takes place in the hearings usually arises over grammatical issues, such as whether to use commas or semi-colons.

Domenico described the hearings as “an interesting place to watch pure, true democracy taking place.”