While the 2020 ballot didn't set a record for ballot measures — that was in 2018, with 13 measures — there was plenty for voters to review, along with the candidates.
Here’s a look at the 11 statewide questions put to voters on the 2020 general election ballot, who backs or opposes those measures, and which ones will become state law.
Proposition 114: Reintroducing gray wolves into Colorado
The results: Results as of 11 p.m. show this one close, with "yes" votes leading by less than 9,000 votes (0.3%).
What it does: The measure would task the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife with coming up with a plan for reintroducing gray wolves into Colorado by Dec. 31, 2023.
Proponents, including the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, which has raised more than $2.4 million, claim the initiative will direct a science-based approach that will respect ranchers, who fear wolves will attack their livestock.
Not surprisingly, the chief opponents to Prop 114 include ranchers, Farm Bureau chapters, and sheep and cattle associations, both in Colorado and elsewhere, which have raised just over $1 million to fight the measure.
Proposition 117: Voter approval of fees
The results: Returns show this measure close, with "yes" votes leading by about 4.5 percentage points.
What it does: Prop 117 asks voters to approve fees that would be charged by state enterprises, a form of state business allowed under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. Proponents, including Americans for Prosperity and Colorado Rising Action, have long claimed that the General Assembly is too free-wheeling in its decisions to charge fees when they can't get approval for taxes. The biggest donors to the supporters include Americans for Prosperity and Unite for Colorado, another dark money group that doesn’t disclose its donors. Those opposed to the measure include the same folks against Prop 116, and the same donors.
"I am just tickled it is doing so well, given the terrible wording it got from the title board," Caldara said. Polling showed the measure would fail pretty spectacularly, he said, but "it's clear that on a state level, people in Colorado do not trust the state government on taxation and spending and they're tired of being taxed," including on fees, without being asked.
Proposition 113: National Popular Vote
The results: As of 11 p.m., "yes" votes led by about 5 percentage points.
What it does: Proposition 113 started off as Senate Bill 19-042, asking if Colorado would become part of a national popular vote compact, which would elect the president by the winner of the most votes rather than the Electoral College. The measure is the first since 1932 where voters have asked to weigh in on legislation adopted by the General Assembly. A “yes” vote means the bill is approved; a “no” vote means it is rejected.
National Popular Vote, as the title implies, is a national movement; and the big dollars to encourage a “yes” vote have come from out of state interests. The issue committee Yes on National Popular Vote leads among the six raising money for and against the measure, with $5.4 million raised. Those against the measure, including Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese, have raised just over $1 million.
Amendment C: Bingo
The results: While early returns show this measure with 51.70% of the vote, it needs 55% to pass.
What it does: It would allow bingo-raffle licensees to hire managers and operators of games, as well as reduce the waiting period for a charity to obtain a bingo license. It had no opposition. This was one of three measures sent to voters by the General Assembly.
HEADED FOR APPROVAL
Amendment B: Gallagher Amendment repeal
The results: Despite it being one of the most complicated measures on the ballot, as of 11 p.m., voters look like they are ready to repeal, giving the measure a 15-point lead, based on early returns.
What it does: Did you have to ask? In simple terms, the measure repeals the 1982 change to the state constitution that sets a ratio of 45/55 for the amount collected statewide through property taxes, with 45% coming from residential properties and 55% from commercial properties. The measure was sent to voters by the General Assembly, in hopes of staving off yet another reduction in property tax assessment rates. Proponents claim that after nearly four decades, Gallagher has hurt rural Colorado because it lowers the assessment rate for homes on a statewide basis, which has cut the amount of property taxes available to schools, fire departments and other local government needs. Opponents claim the repeal would result in an increase in property taxes.
Backers of the measure have in the last six weeks raised $7.3 million to persuade voters to pass it. Donors include some of Colorado’s biggest campaign contributors: Kent Thiry ($1.75 million), Pat Stryker ($2 million) and Gary Community Investments ($1.25 million). Opponents, including the issue committee Keep Property Taxes Low, include Colorado Rising Action, which doesn’t disclose its donors, and the Apartment Association of Metro Denver, and have raised $722,000.
Republican Sen. Jack Tate of Centennial was a co-sponsor of the bill sending the repeal to the ballot. He told Colorado Politics that Amendment B goes to the core idea of tax fairness and tax stability, which is neither a Republican nor Democratic policy idea. "It's a common sense idea. Small businesses are struggling during this recession. With Amendment B passing it will provide breathing room for small businesses, create jobs and economic opportunity for everybody." He also thanked both his colleagues in the General Assembly and external supporters who worked for months to make the measure a reality. "We're very grateful that a talented team took our baton and successfully executed a complicated campaign with the generous support of community leaders."
Democratic Sen. Chris Hansen of Denver said "we did better than we expected" in Boulder and Denver, and neck-and-neck in Douglas. "We connected with the voters where it counted, and we're seeing the dividends of that tonight."
This felt like a local issue to a lot of voters, Caldara said, with people more permissive on taxes at the local level than at the state.
Proposition 116: Income tax
The results: As of 11 p.m., the measure is passing with a 13-point lead.
What it does: This would lower the state’s income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55%. Supporters include Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute and state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, a Sterling Republican, who has long advocated for the change. The measure would reduce state general fund revenue by $203 million in its first full year, and provide an additional $37 to individual taxpayers.
Backers have raised $3 million to support the measure, including Americans for Prosperity, a dark money group that does not identify its donors. Those who oppose the measure have raised $2.1 million, including several dark money groups such as the Sixteen Thirty Fund and the North Fund.
"It's a straight forward, small tax relief that people can understand. I'm not at all surprised in his tough time that people want to keep a little bit of their own money," that will help spur economic growth.
Proposition 118: Paid family and medical leave
The results: As of 11 p.m., "yes" votes led by 14 points.
What it does: What the General Assembly could not do, they’re asking voters to approve. This sets up a paid family and medical leave program, akin to insurance, where employers and employees would split the premiums. Workers would get up to 12 weeks paid leave for certain purposes identified in the measure: adoption, illness, etc.
Colorado Families First has raised $9.5 million to persuade voters to approve the measure. The North Fund and Sixteen Thirty Fund have made the largest contributions to this issue committee. Opposition to the measure comes from those who claim it is badly-timed payroll tax during an economic recession. Their issue committee, No on Prop 118, Higher Taxes, More Bureaucracy, a Lavish New Program Destined for Bankruptcy (yes, that’s its name) have raised $760,000 to fight the measure, with business groups the biggest donors.
“The voters have spoken. Proposition 118’s historic win shows that when Coloradans see the need for something, they come together to make it happen. Coloradans believe in putting family first, so it’s no wonder we are the first state to pass paid leave at the ballot box,” said Sen. Faith Winter (D-Westminster). “ We look forward to creating a program our state will be proud of and ensuring we can come out of this pandemic with a stronger economy and safer communities.”
Proposition EE: Taxes on tobacco products
The results: As of 11 p.m., the measure cruised to an easy victory by a 36-percentage-point margin.
What it does: Maybe the most controversial measure on the ballot, Prop EE establishes new taxes on vaping products and increases the taxes on all other forms of tobacco. Low-cost cigarette companies have cried foul about the measure almost from the beginning because it sets a fixed price for cigarettes rather than just increasing taxes. Not surprisingly, they’re the biggest backers of the anti-Prop EE committee, with $4.1 million contributed. Supporters point out the money will backfill cuts to K-12 education and eventually pay for early childhood education, and have raised just shy of $5 million. Gov. Jared Polis has been among the most vocal advocates for Prop EE. This was forwarded to voters by the General Assembly.
Amendment 76: Citizenship voters
The result: Another measure that needs 55% approval, as of 11 p.m., this is passing with 62.63% of the vote.
What it does: The Colorado Constitution already limits voting to citizens, but this measure would make a one-word change: from “every citizen can vote” to “only” a citizen can vote. This measure comes from out-of-state interests and has been seen as a way to encourage conservative voters to the polls. Opponents claim it will block 17-year-olds from voting in primaries if they turn 18 before the general election, a law that went into effect in 2019. This measure requires 55% voter approval, since it changes the constitution.
Backers of Amendment 76, have raised $1.4 million, almost entirely from the Florida-based dark money group Citizen Voters Inc. Opponents have raised just over $14,000, mostly from the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Friends Service Committee.
Former state Rep. Joe Stengel, who led the campaign for Amendment 76, told Colorado Politics Tuesday night that "obviously we’re pleased. I think clearly the voters have spoken and they unambiguously want to set in the Constitution that only a United States citizen can vote in Colorado. It’s pretty straightforward, simple, they’ve made that decision very clear tonight. So obviously we’re very pleased."
Amendment 77: Gaming
The results: As of 11 p.m., this measure is passing with 59.74% of the vote.
What it does: Sponsored by casinos and other gaming interests, Amendment 77 gives approval of betting limits on table games and slot machines to the three communities in Colorado that allow casinos. The measure has generated $4 million in support, all from casinos and betting companies, and no opposition. This measure requires 55% voter approval since it changes the constitution.
HEADED FOR DEFEAT
Proposition 115: Prohibit abortion after 22 weeks
The results: Election results show the measure failing at about the same rate as previous attempts to ban abortions, by about 18 points as of 9 p.m.
Voters have rejected abortion bans eight times in the past 36 years and by wide margins, but this measure’s polling early on indicated it could go down to the wire.
What it does: Prohibits what’s known as late-term abortions, at 22 weeks gestational age. Doctors who perform abortions at or after 22 weeks would be charged with a misdemeanor and three-year license suspension. The measure provides an exception to save the life of the mother, but not for fetal abnormalities or pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.
Planned Parenthood and its allies have raised $9.5 million to fight the measure. Supporters, including the Catholic Church, have raised less than $700,000 to support it.
A statement from the No on 115 campaign, issued just after 8:15 p.m., said "We voted NO to keep Colorado a safe haven for abortion access — because no one should have to cross borders to get the medical care they need. We voted NO for every woman and family who has ever needed — or may one day need — an abortion later in pregnancy. With this majority NO vote on Prop 115, Colorado can and will continue to be a leader on reproductive health, rights and justice."