The Colorado Secretary of State has said that Personhood Colorado did not obtain enough valid signatures to put a third amendment granting legal rights to fertilized eggs on the 2012 election ballot. Personhood Colorado disagrees, and they have filed a lawsuit asking for the signature issue to be resolved in time for November’s election. They argue the group wasn’t given sufficient opportunity to address what the Secretary of State’s office said were thousands of invalid signatures which disqualified the amendment from appearing on the November ballot.
Personhood Colorado spokesperson Jennifer Mason told One News Now:
“They had discounted, as far as we can tell, about 7,000 valid voter signatures, and they’re claiming that we missed the ballot by 3,800,” she reports. “So, we believe we have definitely more than enough ballot signatures to appear on the ballot, and we are essentially just demanding our legal rights.”
The state also provides a curing period, which is really an extension to get the needed signatures. But that did not apply to the personhood campaign.
“We were denied a curing period at all. Every other amendment had an extra 15 days to make up lost or dismissed signatures. In addition to that, we actually had a month less of petitioning time than any other initiative in the state,” Mason explains
Personhood Colorado is certain that they have been denied their rightful place on the ballot.
“The Secretary of State’s actions unconstitutionally deprived us of our fundamental right under the State and Federal Constitutions to the initiative process which is core political speech,” explained Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D., legal analyst for Personhood USA in a recent press release. “After being denied the same timeframe that every other initiative received, and denied the opportunity to appear on the ballot, we have filed a writ of mandamus to ensure that our rights are recognized and the hard work of our volunteers is not dismissed.”
Although Garcia Jones cites the Secretary of State’s actions in his press release, Jennifer Mason doesn’t believe that Republican Scott Gessler himself acted maliciously or tried to keep them off the ballot. She told RH Reality Check via email:
I don’t think it’s likely that it was intentional on the part of the SOS. It is more likely that they were just swamped with signatures. We turned in over 112,000 this year, with less time, which is far more than the 79,000+ we turned in in 2010.
This may be one of the few topics on which Mason and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains agree. Contacted via email Cathy Alderman, Vice President of Public Affairs responded:
We don’t question the motivation of the secretary of state’s office and believe the office followed the appropriate rules and regulations for signature review and sufficiency declaration. We do believe that Colorado voters, elected officials, and candidates have seen that this dangerous measure is out of step with their values and are less willing to support it or assist with getting it on the ballot.
Unlike most of the rest of the country, Colorado saw a large upswing in Democratic voter turnout in the 2010 election. According to the Weekly Standard, “Turnout in Colorado actually swung from +1 GOP in 2008 to +5 Democratic in 2010, a 6-point move that’s 13 points at odds with the national flow in this election.” The Weekly Standard attributed the swing to lack of strong Republican candidates for governor. But there was also an extremely close, extremely contentious senate race at the time, one that was only decided by about 15,000 votes.
The Democratic governor won with 51 percent of the vote. The Democratic senator won with just 47.7 percent, less than one tenth of a percent over his Republican rival. “Personhood,” meanwhile, lost three to one.
Did the “egg-as-person ballot” encourage Democratic voters in the state to get out to the polls when in other states they appeared to have stayed home? Mason finds that unlikely.
I definitely don’t believe that there is data to support any claim of Personhood increasing democratic voter turnout, particularly considering that there was a split Republican ticket with the addition of Tancredo in 2010.
Even if there was an increase in Democratic voters, we had a huge increase in yes votes in 2010, compared to 2008, so all that would tell us is that personhood votes are independent of Republican Party turnout – we know that many of our voters are Republicans, but many are Independent as well.
The attempt to establish the “personhood” of fertilized eggs hasn’t received nearly the popular support among conservatives in 2012 as it did in 2010, a sign that even the GOP may be ready to see the issue laid to rest. At least two prominent GOP politicians who supported the movement during 2010 have decided not to endorse it this go around. Now, with the odds against the lawsuit being resolved quickly enough to make a difference in 2012, it looks as though no candidates will be forced to take an uncomfortable stand on either side.