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Polis’ online petition step could become a giant leap for humankind

Published on: April 12th, 2020

 

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Community Voice – Evan Ravitz

 

Governor Polis took a small step towards the future on March 16 so political candidates can use Corona virus-free “electronic means” of signing and notarizing their nomination petitions, among other things, in his Executive Order D 2020 005:

“I hereby suspend any notarization or handwritten signature requirements in any rules, regulations, or forms regarding the certification or acceptance of  nomination, selection, or appointment pursuant to C.R.S. §§ 1-4-601, 12-203, 12-206 and direct the Secretary of State to promulgate and issue emergency rules that allow for the use of electronic means regarding the certification or acceptance of nomination, selection, or appointment under C.R.S. §§ 1-4-601, 12-203, 12-206.”

Arizona has had secure online petitions for candidates since 2012. Here’s their welcome page:

https://apps.azsos.gov/equal/

The Governor should also include online petitions for state and local initiatives and referenda. Boulder voted this into our City Charter 71-29% in 2018, which we spearheaded through the City’s Campaign Finance and Elections Working Group. But it’s still not ready, partly because the Secretary of State will not share the voter registration data necessary to identify voters, typically, driver’s licenses.

The former Governor of a politically powerful state and the former Attorney General of another both contacted us this week, pursuing online petitioning for their own states’ initiatives and referendums. They are now talking with Maplight.org, which offered Boulder a free system, which Boulder turned down! See tinyurl.com/petitionstory.

The Governor should “direct the Secretary of State” to get this working nowin the simplest, least expensive and most secure way: host Boulder’s online petitioning as a page of the State voter registration website. If the free offer still stands, testing and trying it out would cost us almost nothing, and would demonstrate it works before doing it on the state level.

Please drop the Governor a note at jared@jaredpolis.com and ask him to do this.

Direct Democracy started in Colorado in 1912, and recently gave us things like Amendment 27, one of the country’s strictest Campaign Finance laws, Initiative 37, the Country’s first voter-approved Renewable Energy Mandate for utilities, Amendment 41,  the country’s strongest Ethics in Government law and Amendment 64, the country’s first legal Marijuana and Hemp. I’ve put a list of 14 important successful initiatives in the last 9 election cycles at: tinyurl.com/ColoradoInitiatives. The 24 states with ballot initiatives get higher voter turnout, more productive legislatures and even happier citizens: tinyurl.com/HappierDirect

Mr. Polis personally sponsored Amendment 41, and Amendment 23, which raised K-12 school spending, for which we thank him. But it is undemocratic, inequitable and wrong that it is mostly just wealthy people like the Gov. Polis and George Soros, who largely sponsored Amendment 64, who can afford to hire petitioners to get their proposals on the ballot.

The Governor can greatly facilitate the “logical next step for the West,” as The Economist magazine called direct democracy in 1993, and show us that he’s really a small-d as well as Big-D democrat.

I’m pretty sure Colorado’s record of direct democracy is second only to that of Switzerland, where they usually vote FOUR times a year on some 15 local, regional and national initiatives and referenda each time: tinyurl.com/SwissDirect

In Switzerland they never required “circulators” to witness and notarize each signature. There, petitions are left in offices and stores for people to read and sign at leisure, and so paid petitioners hardly exist, with the problems of harassing people or misrepresenting petitions to get signatures, hired harassers to try to stop petitioning, hijacking of petitions, paying circulators not to turn in petitions, etc. that we see here.

Online petitions would make it far easier for rural residents, folks away from Colorado, shut-ins, night workers and others, in addition to not spreading viruses. It saves the government the cost of comparing physical signatures to signatures on file, since identification is by driver’s license, etc. It’s easy to allow people to change their minds and “unsign.” Best, it encourages people to read the entire petition online first, instead of being pressured.

 The Governor can easily make government by the people far better and more usable with online petitions. Please email him as suggested above, and do share this on social media.

Evan Ravitz was voted Best Activist by readers of the Daily Camera in 1992, partly for his work for better direct democracy.

Evan Ravitz: Guide, Photographer, Writer, Editor

720-403-5594

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