Successful Constitutional Amendments Since 1972

Sorted by passage percentage and if the amendment to the state constitution was a referendum (referred to the state ballot by a 2/3 vote of each house) or initiative (put on the ballot by the petition process).  I gathered this information from the State Ballot History Page.  Why?  I was interested to see what would or would not have passed if various limits on amending the state constitution were put into place.  And I was also interested to  see if how much sense I thought an amendment made was related to how close its passage was.  I was pleased to see that almost all of the amendments I dislike passed by 55% or less and that the only things I would miss were over on the referendum side rather than initiatives.  So perhaps 1996’s failed Ref A had the right idea but was going for too high a percentage.

Prior to 1992 amendments to the constitution or state revised statues were numbered no matter if they were initiated by a petition or referred to the ballot by the general assembly and the numbering was started anew each year rather than being consecutive as it is now for initiatives.  Referendums started to be lettered consecutively in 2004.  So to lessen confusion I have included the year of the vote for all the ones I have listed.  Short titles were introduced in 1982 (apparently, that’s the first year in which I see one with a short title) and so I have used a shortened version for this listing to prevent the list from becoming unwieldy, to make it clear I have put the information I have added in brackets [].

Referendums

82.8% Ballot #4 (1972)- [Municipal Energy Investment Allowed]

82.5% Ballot #2 (1982)- [Denial of Bail to Some Capital Offense Defendants]

80.2% Ref A (1992)- Rights of Crime Victims

79.2% Ref E (2006)- Property Tax Reduction for Disabled Veterans

78.0% Ref B (1992)- Obsolete Constitutional Provisions

77.8% Ballot 3 (1990)- Obsolete Constitutional Provisions

77.3% Ballot #3 (1982)- Membership and Appointment of Judicial Discipline Commission

76.9% Ref C (1994)- Post-Conviction Bail

76.1% Ref G (2006)- Obsolete Constitutional Provisions

76.0% Ref C (1992)- Local Vote on Gaming After Statewide Vote

72.7% Ballot #2 (1984)- Qualified Electors

71.9% Ref D (2002)- Repeal of Obsolete Constitutional Provisions

71.6% Ref D (2000)- Outdated Constitutional Provisions

70.9% Ref C (2002)- Qualifications for County Coroners

69.0% Ref B (2004)- Obsolete Constitutional Provisions

67.2% Ballot #4 (1988)- Eight-Hour Workday Requirements

66.1% Ballot #1 (1978)- [Appointment County Commissioner to Vacancy]

65.7% Ref A (1994)- Single Subject for Initiatives and Referenda

65.5% Ballot #1 (1982)- [Gallagher Amendment, Property Tax Limitations]

64.3% Ballot #3 (1972)- [Equality of the sexes]

63.3% Ballot #3 (1974)- [Specific Treasury Report Requirement Elimination]

61.8% Ballot #2 (1976)- [Motor Vehicle Taxes]

61.3% Ref C (1998)- Creation of City and County of Broomfield

61.2% Ballot #5 (1974)- [Boundary Control Commission, Denver]

60.5% Ref B (2000)- Legislative Reapportionment Timetable

60.1% Ballot #1 (1980)- [Registration to Vote Required to Sign Ballot Petitions]

60.0% Ballot #6 (1974)- [Revision to State Office Vacancy Procedure]

59.8% Ballot #2 (1980)- [State Lottery]

58.8% Ballot #1 (1984)- Appointment of Insurance Commissioner

56.1% Ref C (1996)- County Sheriffs – Qualifications

56.1% Ballot #7 (1974)- [Taxes On Aviation Fuel Removed from Highway Fund]

54.9% Ref B (1996)- Mailing of Ballot Information

54.7% Ref A (2000)- Property Tax Reduction for Senior Citizens

54.3% Ballot #4 (1982)- [Limitations on enactment of bills eliminated]

54.1% Ballot #2 (1972)- [Establish Student Loan Program]

53.9% Ballot #2 (1988)- Recall Expenses

53.4% Ballot #3 (1986)- Municipal Franchises

52.3% Ballot #3 (1988)- Limitations on Legislative Sessions

52.0% Ballot #4 (1972)- [CU Regents Changes]

51.9% Ballot #5 (1988)- Unpatented Mining Claims [tax exemption]

50.4% Ref B (1994)- Ballot Information Booklet

Initiatives

72.0% Ballot #8 (1988)- Legislative Reform

71.0% Ballot #5 (1990)- Term Limits [State Executive, General Assembly, and congress]

68.7% Ballot #8 (1974)- [No Bussing for Integration]

66.5% Amendment 27 (2002)- Campaign Finance

62.6% Amendment 41 (2006)- Standards of Conduct in Government

61.4% Amendment 35 (2004)- Tobacco Tax Increase for Health-Related Purposes

61.2% Ballot #1 (1988)- English as Official Language

60.2% Ballot #8 (1974)- [Colorado Reapportionment Commission Revised]

59.4% Ballot #8 (1972)- [Banning Money for 1976 Olympics]

58.4% Ballot #1 (1974)- [Poundstone Amendment, preventing annexation without a vote]

58.2% Amendment 08 (1992)- Lottery Revenues for Parks, Recreation, Wildlife

57.9% Ballot #10 (1974)- [No More ‘Plowshares’ Nuclear Detonations]

57.3% Ballot #4 (1990)- Limited Gaming in Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek

56.7% Ballot #3 (1980)- [No Unilateral Annexation by Cities]

55.0% Amendment 43 (2006)- Marriage [Anti-Gay]

54.0% Amendment 12 (1996)- Term Limits [congressional]

53.7% Amendment 01 (1992)- Tax Limitations – Voting [TABOR]

53.6% Amendment 37 (2004)- Renewable Energy Requirement

53.5% Amendment 20 (2000)- Medical Use of Marijuana

53.4% Amendment 02 (1992)- No Protected Status [Anti-Gay]

53.3% Amendment 42 (2006)- Colorado Minimum Wage

52.7% Amendment 23 (2000)- Funding for Public Schools

52.1% Amendment 14 (1996)- Prohibited Methods of Taking Wildlife

51.9% Amendment 16 (1996)- State Trust Lands

51.0% Amendment 17 (1994)- Term Limits [local]

50.4% Amendment 18 (1998)- Voluntary Congressional Term Limits [Pledge]

50.4% Ballot #3 (1984)- Prohibit Public Funding of Abortions[poll id=”461″]

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5 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. RedGreenRedGreen says:

    for rounding this up, it’s interesting reading.

    • Precinct854 says:

      I figured if I was interested someone else might be as well.  I might at some point extend it back a few more decades, but only if I get bored without a book at hand.

      • Danny the Red (hair)Danny the Red (hair) says:

        I recommended this, I had hoped it would be front paged.

        I think its clear for constitutional issues the threshhold needs to be 60-65%, but we need a discussion on this.

        This is a fundamental question for the governance of this state.

  2. Dan WillisDan Willis says:

    I have long been a proponent of a 60% vote to amend the Constitution. I am sorry to see if that had always been the case, we not have a lottery now. But we would have had the 1976 Olympics.

    • Precinct854 says:

      If I had time I would have done all the way back to the 1950s and then you’d see we would not have church (or any other) bingo nights either.  That one only passed by 51.0% in 1958.

      I suspect that might have returned and been passed sometime later, but it was interesting to me that it passed by such a low margin.  I think our constitution previously outlawed all gambling, which I find weird.  Though, then again, it is such an ‘easy’ fix in times of crisis so maybe it was sensible to ban it in the constitution until we amended it to allow for a few exceptions.  I do not have a firm opinion on this subject.

      Personally I think the Olympic vote was one of the better ones in Colorado history.  The games may be fun to watch (for people besides me), but they are universally bad for localities that host them.  I am proud we Coloradans were smart enough to reject the Olympic boondoggle.

      Study of Economic Impact of Mega Events

      “Ex-post studies have consistently found no evidence of positive economic impacts from mega-sporting events even remotely approaching the estimates in economic impact studies.”>

      The Economic Impact of the Olympics

      “In theory, increased economic investment and tourism will more than cover the billions of dollars required to put on this international sporting event.  But as VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Salt Lake City, the site of the last Olympic Winter Games in 2002, the Olympics long-term economic impact has been limited.”

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