DENVER – Colorado voters will decide in November 2020 whether or not to slightly modify the Colorado Constitution to change language regarding who can vote in elections from “every citizen” of the U.S. that is a duly registered voter to “only a citizen” of the U.S. – a move by some Colorado conservatives they say will prevent non-citizens from voting in local elections.
The state Constitution already mandates that only citizens of the United States over age 18 who are registered to vote are able to vote in elections in Colorado. The slight language change – “Only a citizen of the United States…” – would be aimed at possibly addressing a theoretical situation in which a local municipality allowed non-citizens to vote – as has happened in some other U.S. cities, such as in San Francisco with its school board.
Zero Colorado municipalities allow non-citizens to vote, but conservative groups who have hammed on what they call “sanctuary cities” have pushed for the change. Other states have already passed or are considering similar ballot measures for next year.
Last month, the group, backed by Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, and several other Republican lawmakers, submitted around 200,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office in their effort to get their proposed ballot initiative, Initiative 76 “Citizen Qualification of Electors”, onto next year’s General Election ballot.
On Thursday, the Secretary of State’s Office said the group had met its signature requirement. The group gathered 137,362 verified signatures of the necessary 124,632 to qualify for the ballot. A total of 64,912 signatures were deemed invalid.
The measure will need to pass with 55% approval in order to change the Constitution because of the passage of Amendment 71 in 2016.
The two proponents of the measure, Arvin Michel and former congressional candidate George Athanasopoulos, said they were pleased the measure made the ballot.
“Nearly every state constitution mirrors Colorado’s saying ‘every citizen shall be an elector,’ but this inclusion language only tells us who can, not who can’t vote,” Michel said in a statement.
Some attorneys have already questioned whether the initiative would be effective should it pass, telling Westword earlier this year that some of the home-rule laws in the state would make the statewide change ineffective because those municipalities would be able to make their own rules.