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For the good of Colorado, vote no on Amendment 71

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Dear Editor:

It is perplexing how many people have jumped onto the "power to the government" bandwagon. Amendment 71 is a power transfer from ordinary citizens to government actors who are beholden to lobbyists and special interests.

Whether you love participating in democracy or not, one thing is for sure, Coloradoans have, and should continue to enjoy, the ability of "We the People," to freely exercise direct lawmaking power on proposals to change the state constitution.

Amendment 71 creates Draconian barriers to direct democracy, thus preventing ordinary citizens from exercising an important constitutional right.

Making ballot access more difficult means super few, if any, initiatives will appear on future ballots. Look at all the trouble a few Republican U.S. Senate candidates had earlier this year attempting to petition onto ballots in seven Congressional Districts. Imagine spreading that out across 35 Senate Districts!

If an issue is disliked in one or two districts, those districts would have an effective veto, thus depriving the people the ability to decide if the idea is germane or not. Just imagine trying to get enough signatures out of Pitkin or Boulder counties to put a taxpayer bill of rights on the ballot.

If an initiative is bad, Coloradoans have proven they are more than capable of voting down amendments. In fact, only one out of five passed over the past five years. Just because an initiative makes the ballot does not mean it will be approved by the voters. The current success rate of initiatives that make the ballot is only 20 percent!

The ability of the citizens to directly participate in governing is an effective check on the power of the political class. For the average Coloradoan, unduly restricting ballot access, as Amendment 71 does, means a critical democratic tool is only accessible to ultra-big-money interests who can afford the higher costs associated with the complicated signature gathering process.

These are the reasons why I am voting no on Amendment 71: Draconian restrictions on direct democracy, hard to meet signature requirements, and a double-standard for repeal vs. new provisions which would prevent ordinary citizens from an important right. For the good of Colorado vote no on Amendment 71.

Matt Soper
Orchard City

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