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Elsewhere citizens were given the opportunity to petition electronically—why not in Boulder?

By Emma Athena. Originally published in the Boulder Weekly on August 20, 20020.

"While dozens of Boulderites spent the spring risking their health to collect thousands of petition signatures and get citizen initiative measures on the 2020 ballot, this wasn’t the case elsewhere in the nation. From the East Coast to the Southwest, legislators in other states were able to provide secure electronic systems that allowed their constituents to collect signatures online.

It was a surprise to some political scientists, as Boulder was the first municipality in the nation to have voters approve use of an electronic petitioning system back in 2018. Colorado, too, is known in election law circles as a state with relatively active and progressive use of direct democracy. As John Cluverius, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, says, 'Outside of the pandemic, Boulder should really be leading the way.'

Instead, Massachusetts — a state with tougher standards for direct democracy compared to Colorado, with greater signature thresholds and shorter collection periods — implemented the first successful electronic ballot initiative petitioning system when, on April 29, the state’s Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of citizen initiative campaigns.  

'I’m shocked that this wasn’t deployed everywhere,' Cluverius says. 'You all are in Boulder, Colorado. There’s already been a democratic commitment that favors this. The voters have said already they like this and they want it.'"

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