On Dec. 12, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office reported that the Citizen Requirement for Voting Initiative had qualified for the November 2020 ballot. This measure would amend the Colorado Constitution to state that only citizens of the United States are qualified electors in Colorado.
The measure is sponsored by Colorado Citizen Voters and has the support of the national Citizen Voters Inc. Colorado Citizen Voters reported submitting around 200,000 valid signatures in November. To qualify the measure for the ballot, 124,632 valid signatures were required.
The Colorado Constitution currently says, “Every citizen of the United States who has attained the age of eighteen years, has resided in this state for such a time as may be prescribed by law, and has been duly registered as a voter if required by law shall be qualified to vote at all elections.” (Emphasis added)
Under the ballot measure, the Colorado Constitution would say, “Only a citizen of the United States who has attained the age of eighteen years, has resided in this state for such a time as may be prescribed by law, and has been duly registered as a voter if required by law shall be qualified to vote at all elections.” (Emphasis added)
Currently, Colorado statutes require U.S. citizenship to register to vote.
Citizen Voters, Inc. is also supporting similar measures that are on the 2020 ballots in Alabama and Florida.
Colorado Citizen Voters, the committee supporting the measure, reported $10,100 in cash contributions and $1.39 million in in-kind contributions. All but $100 of the contributions came from Citizen Voters, Inc. The in-kind contributions were reported as signature-gathering expenses. The committee reported in $7,730 in cash expenditures.
John Loudon, national chairman of Citizen Voters, Inc. said these amendments are needed across the nation because “surprisingly, the U.S. Constitution and every state constitution, with the exception of Arizona and North Dakota, does not specifically require citizenship to vote. Each of these state constitutions say nearly the same thing: ‘Every citizen shall be an elector…’ This inclusive language tells us who can vote, but not who can’t vote.”
Mark Grueskin, a Democratic Colorado attorney, said, “Whatever [the sponsors] intended isn’t what they ended up with,” and said that Colorado’s home-rule law under Article XX of the state constitution would mean that cities would still have the power to “legislate upon, provide, regulate, conduct and control… all matters pertaining to municipal elections in such city or town.”
Voters in North Dakota decided on a similar measure, Measure 2, in 2018. The measure amended the North Dakota Constitution to state that only a citizen rather than every citizen of the U.S. can vote in federal, state, and local elections. Measure 2 was approved by a vote of 66% to 34%.
Citizenship is a requirement for voting in most elections in the U.S. Voters in San Francisco approved a measure, Proposition N, in 2016 which allowed non-citizens to register to vote in school board elections. New York City allowed non-citizens to vote in local school board elections from 1968 to 2003 until the city abolished elected school boards. As of 2019, 11 cities in Maryland, including Hyattsville, Mount Rainier, and Takoma Park allowed non-citizens to vote. Chicago has allowed non-citizens to vote and serve on its school councils since 1989.
Also certified to appear on Colorado’s 2020 ballot is a veto referendum determining whether Colorado will join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) and a measure authorizing the state to issue bonds for transportation projects.
From 1996 through 2018, an average of between nine and 10 measures appeared on the statewide ballot during even-numbered years in Colorado. A total of 131 measures appeared on statewide ballots in Colorado from 1996 through 2018, of which about 42% (49 of 117) were approved, and about 58% (68 of 117) were defeated.
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