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Empty Petition Boxes Put Anti-Fracking Initiatives In Doubt

By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4) - The future of two anti-fracking measures that could change the state's constitution are in doubt.

Petitions for initiatives to be placed on the November ballot were due to the Secretary of State's Office on Monday. But on Tuesday the office had an abundance of empty boxes after scanning and submitting the petition forms.

"Usually when (proponents of an initiative) bring them in, the boxes are full. A lot of these boxes weren't full," said Lynn Bartels with the Secretary of State's Office.

What's still unclear is if the proponents for Initiative 75 and 78 didn't hand in enough petitions, or if they just gave the Secretary of State's Office too many boxes.

(credit: CBS)

Initiative 75 would give local governments more control on oil and gas regulations. Initiative 78 would increase setbacks from structures and homes to future exploration.

A proponent told CBS4 on Tuesday the group submitted 100,000 signatures. The state requires more than 98,492 signatures to make the ballot. Usually petitioning groups hand in double the necessary signatures to leave no doubt.

Many emails and phone calls to individuals and groups supporting the initiatives were not returned on Tuesday.

(credit: CBS)

"It is unusual because other measures that were turned in, the petitions were scanned in by our staff and put back in their original boxes to be sent down to Pueblo to the state agency to be checked. And they maybe had five boxes left over. This was boxes and boxes and boxes. It may not mean anything but it may mean something," Bartels said.

The state will verify the number and then sample 5 present to verify their accuracy. The state will announce on Sept. 7 what initiatives will officially be on the ballot.

Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he's been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.

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