Colorado Initiative 82: A Ballot Initiative to Ensure Equal Opportunity
Feature Story by Julian Wolfson - 10/30/2008
Supporters of equal opportunity in Colorado are working to put an initiative protecting equal opportunity on the state ballot in 2010, after the Colorado secretary of state ruled the initiative failed to qualify for the November 2008 ballot.
Coloradans for Equal Opportunity, a coalition of equal opportunity supporters, proposed Initiative 82 as an alternative to Amendment 46, which will be on Colorado's ballot this November. Initiative 82 will protect equal opportunity programs that help ensure that all communities have a fair chance to access opportunities in higher education, employment, and contracting in the public sector.
Following the passage of anti-equal opportunity initiatives in California in 1996, Washington in 1998, and Michigan in 2006, California businessman Ward Connerly is attempting to repeat his success in Colorado. He is sponsoring Amendment 46, an initiative on the November ballot, which would amend the Colorado state constitution to ban equal opportunity initiatives in the public sector.
In addition to fighting Amendment 46 directly, supporters of equal opportunity attempted to qualify Initiative 82 for the ballot in Colorado this year. If passed, Initiative 82 would essentially invalidate Connerly's proposed constitutional amendment.
But despite efforts by Coloradans for Equal Opportunity and their allies, Initiative 82 will not be on Colorado's ballot in 2008.
In August, the coalition submitted petitions with 116,000 signatures to the Colorado secretary of state. However, state officials rejected 42 percent of the submitted signatures as invalid, which left the initiative short of the approximately 76,000 signatures required to earn a place on the Colorado ballot.
Since that ruling, Coloradans for Equal Opportunity, working with a number of allies including the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, have verified that nearly 9,000 of the rejected signatures were in fact valid Colorado voters. These valid signatures would have been enough to qualify Initiative 82 for this year's ballot.
Coloradans for Equal Opportunity have filed a lawsuit challenging the secretary of state's decision. If the court rules in the favor of the initiative, it will appear on Colorado's ballot in 2010.