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Colorado Governor's Executive Order On Ballots & Elections Process Draws Both Praise And Concern

DENVER (CBS4) - Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order a week ago allowing the Secretary of State to make temporary changes to how signatures are collected for initiatives to be on the statewide ballot in November.

"What the order does is make this process viable, doesn't make it ridiculously easy or unnecessarily easy, by any means," said Jake Williams, Executive Director of the nonprofit Healthier Colorado.

They have been going through the process of getting an initiative on the statewide ballot in November to raise taxes on tobacco and for the first time tax nicotine and vaping products.

"Research shows that the best way to get these products out of the hands of kids is to actually impose taxes on them," said Williams.

Previously, you would need someone to witness the signature, but the executive order would allow the secretary of state to temporarily allow people to sign the petition and either mail it back or even email it.

"There's lots of questions about how would you manage fraud," said Kelly Brough, President and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce who argues this process is different than when you cast a vote by mail.

"When you sign it and it is sent in it is verified against the database when you registered and provided your signature, and if it's deemed that they don't match your vote is not counted. That process does not occur with signature collection," she said.

The chamber, with the backing of a diverse group of businesses sent a letter to the governor raising concerns about voter fraud as well as calling into question changing rules through executive order.

"Our constitution can only be amended one way and that is through the citizens of the state and a vote and so the only way to change this process would be to propose a change to the citizens of the state of Colorado," said. Brough.

In 2020, Colorado will require 124,632 signatures to be submitted by Aug. 3, 2020, to be included on the statewide November ballot.

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