The Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC joined chambers of commerce from across the state opposing Gov. Jared Polis' unilateral change to rules for getting on the November ballot.
Lawyers for Colorado Concern argued Friday morning that Gov. Jared Polis violated the state constitution when he meddled in the state election process a week earlier.
Denver District Court Judge Robert L. McGahey Jr. sided with the governor in a ruling late Wednesday afternoon, but an appeal is on its way, said advocates for the suit.
The lawsuit was filed by the business coalition Colorado Concern and University of Denver chancellor emeritus Dan Ritchie is pending in Denver District Court on whether Polis can allow signatures to be gathered via email and mail, bypassing the rule of in-person petition gathering.
The Springs chamber is supporting the lawsuit, along with chambers in Denver, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Pueblo and Loveland, Fruita, as well as the Vail Valley Partnership and several state trade groups.
Polis issued the executive order on May 15, but organizations that include the Colorado Springs chamber point to the state constitution in arguing that only voters and legislators can rewrite the rules, and that emergency powers granted to the governor don't extend that far.
The governor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon, previously saying it would not comment on pending litigation.
"We’re advocating that our state’s signature gathering methods abide by our state’s constitution and remain fair and equitable," the Springs chamber said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. "As part of the coalition, we believe that electronic signature gathering would also be more susceptible to voter fraud, jeopardizing our state’s hard earned and well-managed election process."
The chamber noted that the Electoral Integrity Project ranked Colorado 10th among states for best integrity during the 2016 election.
"Electronic signature gathering would threaten that integrity and likely cast doubt on our elections generally," the chamber stated. "In addition, the coalition fears electronic signature gathering would lead to inequalities in parts of our state that have less access to internet, and with demographics who we know have more limited access to internet for various reasons, or are less comfortable with the technology required."
Dirk Draper, president and CEO, Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC, stated, "Ballot measures that impact our region and state’s business climate regularly depend on voter approval or denial. Voters need to know that they are participating in a fair, equitable election process.”
Protect Colorado, a coalition of groups support pro-oil and gas measures, intervened in the lawsuit that was argued before McGahey Jr. last Friday.
Thirty-seven organizations endorsed the amicus brief opposed to the governor's order:
- The American Petroleum Institute
- Associated General Contractors of Colorado
- Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Association
- Colorado Agricultural Aviation Association
- Colorado Association of Home Builders
- Colorado Association of Mechanical and Plumbing Contractors
- Colorado Association of Realtors
- Colorado Association of Wheat Growers
- Colorado Business Roundtable
- Colorado Chamber of Commerce
- Colorado Contractors Association
- Colorado Corn Growers Association
- Colorado Dairy Farmers
- The Colorado Farm Bureau
- The Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC
- Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association
- Colorado Oil and Gas Association
- Colorado Petroleum Association
- Colorado Pork Producers Council
- Colorado Wool Growers Association
- Denver Metro Building Owners and Managers Association
- The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce
- Denver Metro Commercial Association of Realtors
- Denver South Economic Development Partnership
- Early Childhood Education Association
- Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce
- Freedom to Drive
- Fruita Area Chamber of Commerce
- Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce
- Greeley Area Chamber of Commerce
- Loveland Chamber of Commerce
- National Pork Producers Council
- Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance
- Pueblo Chamber of Commerce
- Ready Colorado
- South Metro Denver Chamber
- Special Districts Association of Colorado
- Upstate Colorado Economic Development
- Vail Valley Partnership.