What's the different between an amendment and a proposition on Colorado's ballot?

Is there a difference? Amendment vs. Proposition
Posted at 5:48 PM, Oct 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-22 20:50:44-04

DENVER -- Colorado voters are being asked to weigh in on nine amendments and four propositions on the November ballot. So, what's the difference?

An amendment is a proposed change to Colorado's Constitution. Beginning this election, for an amendment to pass, it needs a super majority or 55 percent of all votes cast. Once it becomes law, no one can change it without another vote of the people.

"Amendments are going to be harder to reverse if it turns out we don't like what they did," said Sarah Chatfield, an assistant professor at the University of Denver. "If you wanted to change that, you couldn't pass a law saying we don't want to have TABOR anymore. You'd actually need to amend the state constitution."

A proposition asks voters to approve a new state law and needs just a simple majority – 50 percent plus one vote – in order to pass. Once a proposition becomes law, state lawmakers can change it.

"The Colorado assembly can amend it, repeal it – just like any other law in our system," explained Chatfield.

The letter or numbers listed after each amendment or proposition explain where they came from.

Ballot measures labeled with a letter – Amendment X, for example – were referred to the ballot by state lawmakers. Lawmakers need a two-thirds majority to get an amendment on the ballot and a regular majority to refer a proposition onto the ballot.

Amendments or propositions with numbers, Prop 110 or Prop 112 for example, are citizen-driven initiatives and went through the signature-gathering process to get on the ballot.

Chatfield recommends voters do their research on each ballot measure before deciding this election.

For voters who are unsure which way to vote or who haven't researched an issue before Election Day, Chatfield said they have two options: Vote no or leave it blank.

"I think that's certainly a reasonable position. I think the option of leaving it blank is also an option if you really don't know how to vote, because ultimately the 50 percent threshold or 55 percent threshold is going to be based on votes cast. It allows those who have decided to vote on that measure have the say on it."