Valid signatures for Colorado 22-Week Abortion Ban Initiative fall short; proponents have a 15-day cure period set for Apr. 12-27

Due Date Too Late, proponents of an initiative to ban abortion after 22 weeks gestation, submitted a total of 137,624 signatures on March 4. To qualify for the 2020 ballot in Colorado, 124,632 valid signatures are required. On April 3, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office announced that proponents submitted 114,647 valid signatures. In Colorado, initiative proponents have a 15-day cure period to collect additional signatures, which begins after a petition’s insufficiency is announced.

On April 2, 2020, Denver District Court Judge Martin Egelhoff granted an emergency stay to allow Due Date Too Late to collect additional signatures for a cure period of 15 days after the state’s emergency stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus pandemic expires. The stay-at-home order was set to be effective through April 11, 2020. Due Date Too Late said, “The stay approved by Judge Martin Egelhoff is significant since it gives Due Date Too Late and its volunteers a fair opportunity to collect more signatures in public, which would be impossible during a potential cure period amid a statewide stay-at-home order.”

Proponents will need to submit an additional 9,985 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot during the 15-day cure period, which was set to begin on April 12 and end at 3:00 p.m. local time on April 27, 2020. Once additional signatures are submitted, the Secretary of State’s office must issue a statement of sufficiency or insufficiency within 10 calendar days.

The initiative would prohibit abortions after a fetus reaches 22 weeks gestational age. Colorado is one of seven states and Washington, D.C., that do not restrict abortion after a certain point in a pregnancy. Under the initiative, performing a prohibited abortion would be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine except in cases where an abortion is required immediately to save the life of the pregnant woman. Medical professionals who are found to have performed a prohibited abortion would have their medical licenses suspended by the Colorado Medical Board for at least three years. A woman who has a prohibited abortion could not be charged with a crime under the initiative.

As of April 6, eight initiatives in Colorado had been approved for signature gathering. One measure has a signature deadline of June 5, four measures have signature deadlines of July 10, and three measures have signature deadlines of August 3. The Colorado Sun reported that Governor Jared Polis (D) and Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) were “considering executive action to give ballot campaigns more flexibility in collecting signatures, possibly by extending the due dates.”

Four measures are currently certified to appear on the November ballot in Colorado:

  1. An initiative to amend the Colorado Constitution to state that only a citizen of the U.S. can vote in federal, state, and local elections, instead of the existing language that says every citizen of the U.S. can vote;
  2. An initiative to reintroduce gray wolves on public lands;
  3. A referendum on whether or not to join Colorado into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact; and
  4. A bond issue for transportation funding.

A total of 108 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Colorado during the 20-year period between 1999 through 2019. Forty-two percent of the total 108 measures were approved.

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