Constitutional amendments bringing Coloradans to polls

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Presidential election years are always big for voter turnout.

In Colorado, a chance to change the constitution and mail-in ballots are a couple of other ingredients to guarantee a record number at the polls.

Nolan Schuler is a registered voter in Colorado Springs who says he always votes, especially in general elections.

“I think the margins are so thin, my vote will count more than it usually does,” Schuler said.

Schuler is like many voters in El Paso County who will make their voices heard next month on Election Day.

Colorado has the third best in voter turn-out in the country.

“We’re around 71, 72, 73 percent turn-out,” Chuck Boerman, county clerk and recorder said. “We’re already very high.”

Boerman says he expects 341,000 voters to head to the polls this general election –  that’s 51,000 more than the 2012 election.

An added bonus this year is voters can do it all without heading to the polls – all they need is a stamp.

“The mail ballot makes it a little convenient for folks,” Boerman added. “But, we believe it’s the candidates and issues that will bring people out not the method.”

This year’s ballot will have 6 amendments to the state constitution including issues like the right to die, a minimum wage hike and state health care.

Robert Loevy, Emeritus Professor of political science at Colorado College, says this is what makes Colorado unique to other states.

“One thing you can count on every two years in a general election in Colorado are ballot questions that will change your daily life,” Loevy said.

Colorado is one of 24 states where residents can change their state constitution. Once 98,492 signatures are collected on a petition, the amendment or initiative can be put on the ballot.

A Supreme Court ruling 25 years ago made it legal to pay the people collecting signatures, which made it easier to get those initiatives and amendments on the ballot.

Loevy says you don’t even have to be from the state either.  He says many initiatives like the legislation that made recreational use of marijuana legal were brought in from out of state parties.

“Colorado is not only an experimental place for Coloradans who use our constitution to try out this and try out that, But many people from around the country. So, that makes what happens in Colorado important for the rest of the nation not just Colorado” Lovey said.

While all eyes are on this year’s presidential election, the nation is also watching how Coloradans vote on their constitution.

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