News, Analysis and Opinion for the Informed Boulder Resident
Saturday August 17th 2019

Support the Blue Line

Subscribe to the Blue Line

That's what she said

city council transportation energy municipalization xcel housing urban planning april fools bicycles climate action election 2011 density boulder county affordable housing open space election agriculture renewables CU local food climate change election 2013 development jefferson parkway youth pedestrian election 2015 preservation Rocky Flats election 2017 recreation BVSD immigration mountain bikes boards and commissions GMOs decarbonization urban design transit fracking plan boulder farming fires wildlife planning board colorado politics architecture downtown smart regs new era colorado land use natural gas plutonium homeless journalism transit village parking commuting ghgs radioactive waste rental taxes height limits coal historic preservation walkability energy efficiency april fools 2015 Neighborhoods zoning population growth diversity historic district flood students growth North Boulder gardens arts education election 2018 solar bus election 2010 University Hill water supply nutrition RTD bike lane electric utility library safety sprawl groundwater water quality election 2012 affairs of the heart april fools 2016 renewable energy organic flood plain planning reserve mayor zero waste blue line wetlands county commissioners hogan-pancost politics electric vehicle hazardous waste transportation master plan obama longmont ballot right-sizing street design golden Mapleton solar panels PV climate smart loan recycling comprehensive plan diagonal plaza bears colorado legislature flood mitigation campaign finance congestion conservation easement food epa boulder junction pesticide drought oil flooding inequality election 2016 road diet planning bus rapid transit commercial development daily camera climate change deniers automobile PUC children ecocycle community cycles BVCP Newlands community league of women voters wind power public health ken wilson david miller sam weaver civil rights mlk west tsa crime public spaces city attorney boulder creek al bartlett marijuana green points technology EV Orchard Grove Whittier arizona

City of Boulder Ballot Question 2F: Initiative Petition Signature Verification


Note: This article is part of a series of 2018 ballot issue analyses written for the Blue Line by author Richard ValentyYou can find coverage of the other 2018 ballot issues here. Ed.

Question 2F addresses petition signatures and the potential for petition fraud. It would amend several sections (39, 46, 57) of the City Charter, to require the city clerk to compare the signatures on a petition “to the extent reasonably possible…to signatures with the election records of the Boulder County Clerk or the Secretary of State.”

Like Question 2E, this measure came out of the city’s Campaign Finance and Elections Working Group process. Election officials maintain signature records, and they’re currently used to compare signatures on the back of mail ballots to signatures on file for authenticity.

Before primary or general elections, election officials might receive large numbers of petitions with large volumes of signatures on each batch submitted. Perhaps one of the most well known recent petition controversies occurred in 2016, when a petition gatherer for U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser was hit with felony forgery charges, eventually pleading guilty to two charges and receiving probation. At the state or district level, petitioning onto the ballot is an alternative to going through the lengthy caucus/assembly process—a process that is not guaranteed to put a candidate on the ballot—and candidate or issue campaigns may pay petition gatherers to help make sure they gather the thousands of signatures necessary to qualify.

In the City of Boulder, City Council candidates only need 25 valid petition signatures to get on the ballot. However, campaigns for citizen initiatives or recall elections in Boulder need to gather thousands of signatures, with future numbers potentially dependent on the results of Question 2E.

Petition gatherers frequently use the tactic of telling voters that signing is “just to get this issue (or candidate) on the ballot.” However, just putting something or someone on the ballot may not be a benign activity if the candidate is questionable or the initiative has flaws, since a sufficient petition puts the candidate or issue one step closer to winning. Also, petitioning might involve some level of campaign financing, and there could be monetary value in an election outcome. Question 2F does not seek to improve peoples’ judgment around petitioning, but it could give Boulder residents greater confidence that the signatures on a local petition are valid and an initiative or candidate deserves to be on the ballot.

Question 2F Pros and Cons


  • There have been documented cases of petition fraud in Colorado, and Boulder should do everything possible to prevent petition fraud in its elections.


  • Question 2F would add to the workload of the City Clerk’s office, especially if multiple city initiatives are submitted at or near the same time.
Rate this article: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

What do you think? Leave a comment!

You must be logged in to post a comment.