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Progress v Politics: Where is our Petition System? – Community Corner: Spring 2020

Published on: May 18th, 2020

 

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“Maybe I’m tired and I’m an idiot but… isn’t this a lot of hand wringing for things that still have to be approved by the voters? It’s not like we’re talking about passing these measures into law: It’s about allowing [people] to vote on them.”

So wrote Shay Castle in a tweet covering the April 14th Boulder City Council discussion about how to handle initiative petitions whose sponsors are unable to collect signatures in-person, thus potentially quashing several ballot measures being attempted this year:

1. No Eviction Without Representation (NEWR), which would provide any tenant facing eviction funding to hire an attorney. (see newrboulder.com)

2. Bedrooms Are For People, a charter amendment that would “allow all housing units to be occupied by a number of people equal to the number of bedrooms plus one, and allow housing units with fewer than four bedrooms to have four people . . . .”
(see bedroomsareforpeople.com)

3. End The Muni, would “[s]top the muni and reallocate the utility occupation tax to other climate measures.”
(see bit.ly/3adlwcT)

Though dates and number of signatures required vary, the problem each initiative faces is the same: it is unsafe and currently against the Governor’s emergency orders to collect signatures.

In 2018, Boulder voters approved collecting digital petition signatures. This would have provided a solution to the current conundrum, but staff have eschewed an open source, free software solution and  instead have been working towards a software solution that would cost the city between $250,000 and $500,000 to license.

Advocates for the Bedrooms Are For People initiative share that they want to see a solution that doesn’t place an undue burden on voters, such as signing via phone.

These initiatives should all reach the voters, because as Castle opined, the worst case scenario is people get to vote on them.

 

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