Weed, Guns, Voter Purge: Colorado’s Wild Swing State Swing

Yahoo Contributor Network

With issues and policies covering the full political spectrum in Colorado, it's a tough state to call in the 2012 presidential election. While official GOP nominee Mitt Romney held about a four-point lead over incumbent Pres. Barack Obama in the state in early August, a poll just weeks later shows Obama with the four-point advantage. Statistician Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight forecasts a 63.2 percent chance of Obama taking the state in November.

Like other states across the country, Colorado is addressing the concern of voter fraud, though documented cases of such fraud are exceedingly rare, with 10 cases since 2012. Nonetheless, Colorado sent letters to 3,900 suspected "noncitizen" voters, challenging their eligibility to vote. Of the 1.400 with alien registration numbers - required for the check against the federal database - to date 88 percent of the voters have had their citizenship confirmed. The remaining 12 percent, or 168 of the 1400, have not yet been checked, according to the Denver Post.

As Colorado accomplishes much through the voter initiative process, proposed initiatives cover a wide range of political values. This year, voters will take on a novel issue: Recreational use of marijuana.

Among a sea of proposed, unsuccessful voter measures, an initiative that calls for the legalization of recreational use of marijuana, with regulations, obtained the required number of signatures and has been certified for the ballot. A measure that would have allowed recreational marijuana use without restrictions didn't make the cut.

And despite a rash of firearms purchases after the Aurora movie theater shooting in July, the initiative to allow concealed carry of handguns without a permit will not appear on the November ballot. Colorado currently allows concealed carry of handguns with a permit.

Still under review, an initiative that would add a "personhood amendment" to the Colorado Constitution may make the ballot this fall. The amendment defines life at "the start of biological development."

Also under review is a is an advisory question that asks the citizens of Colorado whether they want to limit corporate financing of elections, and seeks to engage the Colorado legislature in passing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to overrule the Citizens United Supreme Court Case.

And in what seems like a wash for pro-LGBT-rights groups and anti-LGBT rights groups, an initiative to permit same-sex marriage failed, as did a measure that sought to repeal state constitutional language that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Not only could Colorado have a big hand in selecting the next president, it may also serve as a cultural thermometer. Voters rejected some of the national hot-button topics, such as more permissive gun laws and LGBT rights or denial of rights, but have zeroed in on the disparate issues of "personhood" and legalized marijuana use. The outcome of the initiatives may change perception of these issues nationwide.

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