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June 30, 2008 11:29 PM UTC

Right-to-Work Backers Want Do-Over

  • by: Colorado Pols

We’ve all seen the news over the last few weeks about a legal challenge filed regarding the signature-gathering process for the so-called “Right to Work” ballot measure. As it turns out, that legal challenge may have some real legs to it. The Denver Post explains:

Proponents of the right-to-work ballot initiative have asked a district court judge for permission to collect additional signatures for their petition.

The request was made Friday in response to a lawsuit filed in May by union interests that challenged the validity of signatures submitted by the right-to-work group.

Right-to-work proponents want to begin collecting so-called curative signatures “to add to the petition in the (event) that the current petition is determined to be without sufficient valid signatures,” according to a Denver District Court filing.

Ballot measures have until Aug. 4 to submit 76,000 certified signatures.

The right-to-work group submitted more than 136,000 signatures in April. Secretary of State Mike Coffman’s office estimated that 94,546 were valid based on a random sample, certifying the measure for November’s ballot as Amendment 47.

The business-backed initiative would ask voters to amend the state constitution to say that union membership and the payment of dues or fees could not be mandated as a condition of employment.

The union complaint alleges that some signature collectors, or circulators, were out-of-state residents who falsely stated their addresses on the petitions.

Circulators are required to be Colorado residents, but some provided home addresses that were traced to a payday lending store, a shuttered tanning salon and a vacant field.

The suit challenges the validity of the petitions’ notaries and claims more than 53,500 signatures are from individuals who aren’t registered to vote.

The suit seeks to have the court vacate Coffman’s certification and either declare that the petition lacks the required signatures or order the state to perform a “line-by-line” analysis of the petition.

In the past, judges have tended to side with the idea that we should just “let the people decide” when it comes to issues like this, but the suit filed in this case is unprecedented in its complexity. The fact that the proponents of “Right to Work” are asking to be allowed to collect new signatures is little short of an admission that they aren’t very confident in their chances of winning the legal battle.

The courts shouldn’t give proponents a second chance to submit signatures because of the bad precedent it would set. If the courts allow this second chance, they are basically saying, “It’s okay if you didn’t follow the law, because if you get caught cheating, we’ll give you another chance to do it right.” That’s not how this, or any other petition gathering effort, should work in Colorado.


24 thoughts on “Right-to-Work Backers Want Do-Over

    1. It’s pretty humorous to phrase this as some sort of populist sentiment when I would doubt any time in recorded history “right to work” has been the result of an overwhelming groundswell of those who have had enough of working in a union shop.  To my knowledge, and I would be happy to be proven wrong, the push for these laws has never once come from workers attempting to gain their “rights,” but instead has in every instance come from the employer side.

      1. It led to

        Democrats winning the governorship with Steve McNichols and capturing both chambers of the legislature. The Ds wouldn’t pull that hat trick again until 2006. Now, you know why sane Rs and businessmen like Joe Blake want no part of this scheme.

  1. Hiring scabs to petition to cripple employee rights! Whatever it takes to keep workers “barefoot and pregenant” (in a figurative sense).

  2. I do agree that this is not how something should get on the ballot in Colorado and they probably should not have a second chance. But what does the law actually say? I am inclined to error on the side of there not being a penalty unless there is one prescribed by law. If there isn’t a provision for dealing with fraud on the part of the people collecting signatures then there really ought to be.

    More broadly what happens if it is shown that fraud was committed in some locality in the state? Are the real votes thrown out with the false ones? Is there a provision for a revote? And are there penalties for people involved such as prohibiting them from being involved in state elections in the future?

    I know with voter registration there are (some pretty hefty) fines if mistakes are made. But as far as I know there are no other penalties.

  3. If measures have until August 4 to collect signatures, why do they even have to ask for permission to collect more before that date?

    Anyone found guilty of using fake addresses, etc. should be punished with fines or worse, but unless the law provides otherwise why shouldn’t they get until Aug. 4 to collect? Is there any downside?  

    1. They only have 6 months to collect the necessary number of signatures. Thier 6 months was up in April, so the law does not give them the ability to get more.

      1. I did not know that. Thank you for another informative point about the particular law around this. That certainly puts a different light on it.

  4. I agree completely that the courts should not grant a second chance.  Seems to me that this would not only set a bad precedent but that it would also allow the petitioners to submit a stack of signatures at the last minute with almost no time to verify.  Seems a little shady if they got caught the first time…

    1. Union workers would have been out on the picket line when they were needed.

      And if they had actually made it to their job site,

      ooops,,,,,,,break time……..then when they found out they weren’t making Davis/Bacon wages,,,,,,,,,strike again!

      Oh yeah……highly productive lot they are.

      1. You wouldn’t have even been able to hire other workers while the union boys were on strike/break/vacation/etc…  Unless, of course, this amendment passes…

  5. … is probably the only reasonable punishment for systemic fraud during the signature collection process.  Punishing the individual signature gatherers doesn’t adequately address this level of corruption.

    I don’t know what the process is for submission of additional signatures after the formal submission might be.  And how does this affect the Amendment numbering?

    1. …the rules are a little different than for candidates.

      For issue petitions, there is no “cure period” once they submit their signature that’s it they are done.

      They have 6 months from the time their ballot title is set. There is a drop dead date every election cycle which is 3 months prior to the election (this year that is Aug. 4th). Petitions have to be submitted by that date whether they have had a full 6 months or not.

      The last date that a ballot title can be set is the 3rd Wed. in May. There were several initiatives that got their ballot title that day this year and there are six out there circulating that I know of, all due on Aug. 4th. There could be more. The only reason I know of the six is because I have encountered their circulators. There is a 7th out there that is acutually due in by July 9th, which is its six-month deadline.

      Amendment 47’s six months to get signatures expired in April. They turned in on the next-to-last day they could.

      The Amendment number will not be affected at all. If a cure period were to be granted, it would still be Amend.47. If the courts end up removing it from the ballot, there simply will not be an Amend. 47 and the other amendments would retain the numbers they have alrady been given. Actually so far only Amendment 48 has been assigned: to the “Personhood” amendment (or as I like to call it: “Eggs are people too”)

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