ACRI Ballot Initiative: Can Colorado’s Initiative Process Potentially Contribute to Injustice?

The Colorado Title Setting Review Board approved the title of the American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) ballot initiative.

I have serious concerns about the Colorado initiative process. The overall concern of the process seems to be to ensure that the initiative satisfies the technical requirements to be on the ballot. There is no consideration of the issues contained in the body of the initiative. I realize that Colorado’s initiative process adheres to the mandates of the Colorado constitution giving the public a right to propose initiatives. That does not preclude comment on how Colorado’s initiative process can have detrimental effects.

Colorado’s initiative process would be fine with noncontroversial items having broad general applicability. However, Colorado’s initiative process becomes weak when used for initiatives, like ACRI’s, that implicate the state legislature’s policy making authority. Especially where the negative impact of ACRI’s initiative falls heavily on non-White citizens.

For example, in Step 2 (review and comment meeting) of Colorado’s initiative process, the Colorado Office of Legislative Legal Services and Legislative Council have an open hearing about the substance of the initiative. The public, though, is not allowed to comment or provide testimony on the initiative proposal at the meeting.

Moreover, a person seeking to object to an initiative can only object to the title of the initiative (steps 7 and 8) , or later in the process, challenge the signatures collected by those seeking to place the initiative on the ballot (step 13).

Colorado’s initiative process could contribute to injustice when it permits initiatives, like ACRI’s, to go onto the ballot without legislative or public comment on the policy details of the initiative.