An organizer of a ballot initiative to make abortions after 22 weeks illegal in Colorado has filed a lawsuit over the governor’s executive order on collecting signatures for ballot measures, making it the second such legal challenge since the governor changed how the process works.
Giuliana Day of the group Due Date Too Late filed the complaint in U.S. District Court on Monday evening against Gov. Jared Polis and Secretary of State Jena Griswold. The lawsuit alleges that Polis’ executive order suspending certain statutes discriminates against Day because it excludes Initiative 120.
The governor’s order signed Friday allows campaigns to collect the required 124,632 signatures over mail and email and suspends the requirement that petitions have to be filed within six months of being set, except for those that are already in their 15-day cure period. The only initiative in that period — where the group is working to collect nearly 10,000 more valid signatures because they fell short — is the abortion ban. The secretary of state’s office is tasked with creating temporary rules to go into effect for the other initiatives in the coming weeks.
“We just want want to be treated fairly and we don’t want to have our viewpoint discriminated against just because they might not support our measure,” said attorney Suzanne Staiert, a former Republican deputy secretary of state and state senate candidate.
“Defendant Polis has, in effect, stated that if you are a pro-life Coloradan, you have no right to free speech or the protection of your health during a pandemic,” the lawsuit stated.
The group is asking for an expedited hearing because its signatures are due May 29, after a judge previously granted them an extension to collect signatures.
At a news conference Monday, Polis said the changes are about the rights of citizens to get measures placed on the ballot during a public health emergency that makes gathering “next to impossible.” But they only apply to those that haven’t already submitted signatures.
“Obviously no initiatives were separated out based on whether I like them or not,” he said. “There’s many initiatives that are going to be using this that I like and many that I don’t like.”
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