Ban-Fracking Groups Have Very Little Wiggle Room to Qualify for Colorado Ballot
— Lynn Bartels (@lynn_bartels) August 9, 2016
Tweet from Colorado Secretary of State Spokeswoman Lynn Bartels
National activist organizations are claiming to have turned in a sufficient number of signatures to put their extreme Keep-It-In-The-Ground (KIITG) agenda before Colorado voters this fall, but there are some big questions as to whether the groups have actually collected at least 98,492 valid signatures required as the validation process gets underway. From the Denver Business Journal:
“The organizers said they collected “over 100,000” signatures in support of each of the ballot petitions, but said they couldn’t be more precise about the final tally because they were still collecting signatures Monday morning.” (Emphasis added)
As Colorado Secretary of State Spokeswoman Lynn Bartels observes in the tweet featured above, there were apparently a lot of boxes delivered but not so many petitions. Of course, delivering empty boxes to create the illusion of broad support is a page right out of the ban-fracking playbook. For example, when the anti-fracking group Environment North Carolina delivered what they claimed were “more than 50,000” petitions signed by “opponents of fracking,” the state’s governor’s office was left with a big mess of empty boxes to clean up. The News Observer reports:
“Today’s petition drop-off is nothing more than the 44 empty boxes that this left wing group showed up with – a stunt trying to deceive the media and public,” Ellis wrote. “Unlike this extreme political group, the governor’s office cares about the environment, and we will devote our time to cleaning up and recycling the mess of empty political props that were left behind.”
In other words, the groups behind initiatives 75 and 78 likely have an uphill climb ahead of them, especially considering what’s happened with other ballot campaigns in the state.
In Colorado, ballot initiative campaigns typically collect far more than the requisite number of signatures due to what observers have called “historical signature verification rates.” To count toward the total, signatures must be from registered voters, meaning that signatures that do not match up with the state’s voter rolls are not considered valid. As the Denver Business Journal reports:
“A general rule of thumb among people who have worked on ballot campaigns over the years is that supporters should gather and turn in at least 140,000 signatures in order to comfortably clear the signature validation requirements.”
For instance, Let Colorado Vote, a ballot initiative campaign to make changes to Colorado’s elections process boasted on social media that the group had turned in 310,000 signatures for their initiative.
Meanwhile, Raise the Bar, a ballot initiative that would make it more difficult to amend the state’s constitution told the media they had turned in 185,000 signatures for their initiative. Healthier Colorado, a campaign to raise tobacco taxes reported turning in 163,764 signatures for theirs while a campaign backing an end-of-life options initiative reported turning in more than 160,000 signatures and a campaign to raise Colorado’s minimum wage reported turning in 200,000 signatures for theirs.
In a sign that they may be unsure about their chances to make the ballot, the groups behind the anti-fracking initiatives are seemingly the only ones not to promote the amount of signatures they collected.
In fact, when asked by the media, a Food & Water Watch spokeswoman was only able to say they had collected “over 100,000” and that “they couldn’t be more precise about the final tally because they were still collecting signatures Monday morning.”
Only time and a final tally will tell, but one thing’s for sure: ban-fracking activists have very little wiggle room.