City begins Boulder Direct Democracy Online
By Deborah Swearingen. Originally published in the Daily Camera on January 25, 2021.
"Boulder last week began a preview of Boulder Direct Democracy Online, the new software that allows online signature gathering for initiative petitions, recalls and referendums.
However, people so far have reported challenges when using it.
According to an email to the city from Chelsea Castellano, co-chair of the Bedrooms Are For People campaign, the majority of the Bedrooms volunteers have not been able to successfully complete the process, despite having the correct information in the systems.
'These issues are alarming considering we should be able to start collecting signatures in the coming days and weeks,' Castellano wrote in an email.
The city promised to have the software available for the first campaign that filed its petition, so by that standard, it has until Friday to solve the issues. Bedrooms Are For People, which seeks to change Boulder’s occupancy limits to allow more unrelated people to live together, submitted its petition last week. However, the city has 10 days to approve it before the campaign is allowed to collect signatures.
'This preview will allow petitioners to get comfortable with the new system. It will also be valuable to the city and the vendor as a test. Because this is a new system, the city anticipates there will be some fixes that need to occur. The preview will be taken down when a petition is approved for online endorsement,' the city stated in a news release.
Work on Boulder Direct Democracy Online began after voters in 2018 approved a charter amendment allowing for electronic endorsements of initiative petitions. While the system is now available, it won’t be applicable for charter amendments.
After many expressed frustration about the requirement to select the new online system or the old paper method, the city implemented a city manager’s rule that allows campaigns to circulate the petition online, with paper or both. However, only one method can be submitted."