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Fact Check: Do Coloradans agree that it “should be harder” to amend the constitution? Some do.

Vasundhara Tyagi, CU News Corps

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Proponents of Amendment 71 — one of nine ballot questions voters will face this November — say Colorado’s constitution is the easiest in the United States to amend. Under the amendment, changes to the constitution would require signatures from all of Colorado’s 35 state senate districts, as well as 55 percent of the vote on election day. As of right now, campaigns only have to gather 5 percent of the voting population’s approval.

“Colorado has the easiest constitution to amend in America,” said Rich Coolidge, press officer of the Raise the Bar campaign, which is an advocacy group in favor of Amendment 71. “Coloradans agree that it should be harder to amend the constitution.”

Let’s take a closer look at each statement.

“Colorado has the easiest constitution to amend in America…”

While there is a bit of truth to this statement, it is also misleading.

Alabama has made the most changes to its constitution, with more than 770 amendments, according to BallotPedia. Since its constitution’s ratification in 1876, Colorado has amended it 155 times, about the national average. True, Colorado has had a constitution for only the past 140 years — compared to nearly 240 years for the 13 original states — and the national average is 146 amendments.

Of those 155 amendments over the past 140 years, only 42 have come from the citizen initiative process. The other 113 have come through the state Legislature.

These statistics cast doubt Coolidge’s claim that Colorado’s constitution is the easiest to amend in the United States.

“Coloradans agree that that it should be harder to amend the constitution than change a law [and] the process should involve everyone in Colorado.”

This statement is partially true. Some Coloradans agree that it should be more difficult to amend the constitution, but not all.

According to a Magellan Strategies survey, 54 percent of men approve of Amendment 71 while only 41 percent of women do. Support is the lowest among voters 18-34 years old. Voter support for the amendment also differs based on party affiliation, with 39 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of Republicans in favor of the measure.

Overall, Coolidge’s statements are potentially misleading and exaggerated. While some Coloradans appear to approve of the amendment, Coolidge is underrepresenting several groups including women, Democrats, and voters under 35. In addition, Colorado does not seem to have the easiest constitution to amend. Other states, such as Alabama, have made many more changes.

Vasundhara Tyagi is a junior journalism student in the journalism department of the College of Media, Communication and Information at the University of Colorado Boulder. She has interned for Voice of America’s English division.

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Explanatory Multimedia Reporting from CU Boulder Journalism Students
Fact Check: Do Coloradans agree that it “should be harder” to amend the constitution? Some do.