Colorado Ballot 2016


The fall 2016 Colorado ballot promises to stir up strong emotions in the state.  With a variety of complex issues coming to a vote, it is important that we understand the ballot and what is at stake.  Join Active Minds® for an objective review of the ballot issues and a presentation of the arguments on each side of the proposals.

Key Lecture Points

  • Colorado voters go to the polls November 8, 2016 (ballots will be mailed to many Colorado voters by mid October).  In addition to voting for President, US Senator, US Representatives and other elected offices, every Colorado voter will be asked to vote yes or no on 9 state-wide citizen initiatives and referenda.  This year’s citizen initiated measures include a state universal healthcare system, raising the state minimum wage, tightening the requirements for constitutional amendments, allowing unaffiliated voters to participate in nonpresidential primaries, restoring a state presidential primary, new tobacco taxes and establishing an individual’s right to request aid-in-dying medication.  Additionally, the Colorado Legislature has referred two measures to the electorate.
  • Colorado is one of many states that allow the legislature to refer the passage of a law to a vote of the electorate (referendum).  Additionally, the Colorado Constitution permits citizens to amend it or propose a change to the Colorado statutes by way of a direct initiative.
  • Adopting its referendum and initiative process in 1910, Colorado is one of 26 states that allow some form of “direct democracy,” wherein the electorate is able to vote directly on legislation.  Proponents of direct democracy argue that it holds the legislature accountable to the electorate and provides for swift adoption of laws that reflect the desires of the people.  Critics argue that direct democracy creates ballots that are overly confusing and subject to abuse.  Additionally, they argue that legislators are held accountable in a representative democracy by way of elections.

Exploration Questions

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of initiatives and referenda?
  • In what way does the 2016 Colorado ballot demonstrate these advantages and disadvantages?

Reflective Questions

  • Do you think the initiative process fosters the democratic process?  Why or why not?
  • Do you feel more a part of the process when there are a large number of initiatives and referenda or just overwhelmed?

More to Explore

  • Colorado Legislative Council analysis of ballot Click here
  • Information on ballot issues Click here

Books For Further Reading

  • Cicero, Quintus Tullius, Philip Freeman.  How to Win An Election.  Princeton University Press, 2012. 99 pages. Cicero’s observations of Ancient Rome’s politics remain pertinent for today’s reader.
    Click here to order
  • Cronin, Thomas E., Robert D. Loevy.  Colorado Politics and Policy: Governing a Purple State.  University of Nebraska Press, 2012. 440 pages.  This book gives a concise history of Colorado’s constitution and central political institutions as well as an analysis of the state’s political cultures.
    Click here to order