Organizers can now collect signatures for ballot measures via email, mail, Polis says in new orders

Gov. Jared Polis on Friday signed executive orders that will make it easier to collect signatures for ballot measures, handing a significant win to organizers who have been stunted in their efforts by the pandemic.

The orders authorize the secretary of state to create temporary rules so signatures for ballot issues can be collected by mail or email. Previously, collecting signatures meant a petition circulator would have to do this in person.

“This Executive Order protects Coloradans’ constitutional right to shape their government through the initiative and referendum processes without risking their health or the health of others,” Polis wrote.

The governor also signed an order allowing unaffiliated and independent candidates to gather signatures via mail or email.

The fate of several major ballot measures — including paid family leave — have been hanging in the balance, given the constraints of getting signatures during stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures.

The urgency was particularly acute because it’s a presidential year, which brings the highest turnout, especially among unaffiliated and Democratic voters.

Changing the rules so close to an election has been a touchy subject during the past several weeks, with some saying it was necessary during this unprecedented time and others arguing it could open a Pandora’s box.

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