Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Nonpartisan DU research group clarifies ballot issues

Colorado voters might be scratching their heads a little more than usual when they enter the election booths Nov. 4. That’s because they’ll see 18 statewide ballots — the most since 1912.

To reduce some of that head scratching, DU’s Center for Colorado’s Economic Future has written summaries of four of the more complicated measures. Created last year, the center is an independent, nonpartisan organization that conducts research on matters related to Colorado.

The center’s director, Charlie Brown, says they analyzed Referendum O and amendments 52, 58 and 59. The summaries are posted online.

Each analysis begins by explaining the initiative. Then rationale, provisions, background along with questions and answers are typically covered.

Brown says the center gets its information for its summaries from “many different sources that are generally available to the public.” For Referendum O, which seeks to decrease the number of signatures required to place a statutory initiative on the ballot, he says information came from the national Conference of State Legislatures, the Initiative and Referendum Institute and from states that have had similar initiatives.

Brown says this year the hot button political issues “run the gamut” and include taxes, spending, constitutional reform, business and labor issues, gaming, affirmative action and the definition of personhood.

“The sheer number of issues on the ballot, their complexity … and the amount of homework citizens must do to cast informed decisions is creating a lot of voter concern,” Brown says.

Jerry Groswold, the chair of the center’s board of advisers, says the center is “a dramatic indication of DU’s commitment to the public good.”

“I defy anyone to read the ballots as written and then explain to me what they mean. It can’t be done,” Groswold says. “So we have people voting on things they don’t know anything about or the consequences. That’s what the center is trying to help with — to add some transparency in the way laws are written.”

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