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History of Election Results for Ballot Issues

Both the Colorado Constitution and state statutes are subject to amendment by legislatively referred and citizen-initiated measures.  The process is governed by the Colorado Constitution and state law.1 

Legislatively referred measures.  The Colorado General Assembly may refer constitutional measures to the voters with a two-thirds vote of both houses, and may refer statutory measures to the voters with a majority vote of both houses.  The General Assembly submitted its first measure to Colorado voters in 1880.

Citizen-initiated measures.  Any Colorado resident may place a constitutional or statutory measure on the ballot.  The use of citizen initiated measures for constitutional and statutory changes was voted into law in 1910 and became available in 1912.

Even- and odd-numbered year elections.  State law clarifies the types of proposals that may appear on a statewide ballot in odd-numbered years.2  Odd-year election proposals are limited to state matters arising under TABOR.  These types of proposals include a new tax, a tax rate increase, an extension of an expiring tax, a tax policy change directly causing a net revenue gain, and emergency taxes.  They also include the creation of multiple-year fiscal obligations or debt, an increase in the assessment rate for a class of property, the weakening of a state limit on spending, and voter-approved revenue changes.  State law does not limit the types of proposals that are eligible for the ballot in even-numbered years.

Numbering and lettering for ballot measures.  Beginning in November 2010, statewide citizen-initiated measures are numbered, while those that are legislatively referred are lettered.  Table 1 provides further detail on the numbering and lettering schedule for statewide ballot measures.

Table 1
Ballot Measure Numbering and Lettering Schedule
 
Amendment
(Constitutional)
Proposition
(Statutory)
Citizen-Initiated
1 to 99
(Beginning with 60*)
100 to 199
(Beginning with 100*)
Legislatively Referred
A to Z
(Beginning with P*)
AA to ZZ
(Beginning with AA*)
Source:  Section 1-5-407, C.R.S.
*Parenthetical notes indicate the number or letter used as a starting point in 2010.
 
1Colo. Const. art. V, § 1 and Sections 1-40-101, et seq., and 1-41-101, et seq., C.R.S.
2Section 1‑41-102, C.R.S.

Statewide Ballot Measures Since 1880

The tables below provide information about statewide ballot measures since 1880.  Table 2 displays ballot measures by type, origin, and outcome.  Table 3 classifies measures by category. 

Table 2
Statewide Ballot Measures by Type, Origin, and Outcome
Type/Origin
Total
Adopted
Rejected
Constitutional
352
165
187
Citizen-initiated
157
49
108
Legislatively referred
195
116
79
Statutory
112
44
68
Citizen-initiated
79
31
48
Legislatively referred
20
10
10
Referendums*
13
3
10
Question**
9
4
5
Withdrawn/Insufficient Signatures***
6
 
 
Total Measures
479
213
260
Source:  Legislative Council Staff.
*Referendums occur when citizens request a vote against any act or section of an act that contains a referendum clause and was passed by the legislature.  That last referendum occurred in 1932.
**A question is a proposition in the form of a question arising under TABOR without reference to specific state legislation or a specific amendment to the state constitution.
***Ballot measures appeared on the ballot but were withdrawn or later determined to have insufficient signatures.
 

Table 3
Statewide Ballot Measures by Category
Category* Total Adopted Rejected
Abortion 8 2 6
Agriculture and Livestock 7 2 5
Alcohol 8 3 5
Business and Labor 22 12 10
Children and Domestic Matters 4 1 3
Civil Rights 8 5 3
Criminal Justice and Public Safety 9 5 4
Education 23 10 13
Elections 46 30 16
Energy and Utilities 13 4 9
Gaming 23 9 14
General Assembly 17 10 7
Government Finance 17 5 12
Health and Human Services 11 6 5
Initiative Process 13 6 7
Judiciary and Courts 22 13 9
Local Government 22 11 11
Marijuana 4 3 1
Natural Resources 11 3 8
Public Employee Compensation 16 5 11
Public Pension 7 2 5
Property 6 2 4
State Government 49 20 29
Taxation 72 24 48
Technical Amendments 10 9 1
Term Limits 13 6 7
Transportation 12 5 7
Withdrawn/Insufficient Signatures** 6    
Total 479 213 260
Source:  Legislative Council Staff.
*Ballot measures were categorized by the most appropriate category; however, many measures fit under multiple categories.
**Ballot measures appeared on the ballot but were withdrawn or later determined to have insufficient signatures — Business and Labor (4); Civil Rights (1); and Marijuana (1).
 
Online Database of Statewide Ballot Measures Dating Back to 1880
 
ctaballot.jpg
 
The Secretary of State’s Office also maintains an archive of election results at: http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/Results/Archives.html.

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