DENVER– The Secretary of State on Thursday announced that proponents of a constitutional amendment saying that “only” US citizens are eligible to vote in any Colorado election turned in a sufficient number of valid signatures and that the measure will appear on Colorado’s Nov. 5, 2020 general election ballot.
It is already the law that voting in any state or federal election is restricted to US citizens, but as has been reported elsewhere, a local government could allow non-citizens to vote in its local election. While that hasn’t happened in Colorado, it has in other parts of the country, most notably in San Francisco where non-citizens can now vote in school board elections, and in Takoma Park, Maryland which eliminated citizenship requirements for its city elections.
The measure, currently numbered as Initiative 76, seeks to modestly amend Article VII, Section 1 of the Colorado Constitution, replacing the words “Every citizen” with “Only a citizen.” If voters sign off on the measure in 2020, the amended Section 1 would read: “Only a citizen of the United States who has attained the age of eighteen years, has resided in this state for such 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.”
To put a citizen-initiated measure on the state-wide ballot requires 124,632 valid signatures from registered voters, a number equal to 5 percent of the votes cast in the 2018 Secretary of State election. Constitutional amendments further require valid signatures from at least two percent of the registered voters in each of Colorado’s 35 state senate districts. The citizen-only voting measure, titled “Citizen Qualification of Electors,” made it on the ballot with 137,362 valid signatures, and requires 55 percent plus one of the vote to pass.
The amendment is the second measure thus far to qualify for Colorado’s 2020 ballot. A repeal referendum of the recently passed National Popular Vote (NPV) Compact legislation was approved in August. In addition, signatures for a measure to forcibly introduce gray wolves into Western Colorado are currently being reviewed by the Secretary of State, and another measure that seeks to ban late term abortions is in the signature gathering phase.