Amendment W: Changing judge retention format on ballot
October 10, 2018
Every two years, electors in Colorado get the chance to vote on the retention of judges and, this year, one ballot measure proposes changing the way that question is posed.
Since 1966, judges and justices in the state of Colorado have been selected and retained through a nonpartisan system that calls upon voters to make a determination about whether a particular judge or justice should be retained in office.
On this year's ballot, Amendment W seeks to change the format of those retention questions, which is purely cosmetic and does not change a voter's ability to vote on the retention of judges and justices.
The judicial retention section on Colorado ballots is currently broken down into separate segments. If the amendment passes, the format would change by moving the retention question language from the section beside each judge's name to the heading of the various courts. Each judge's name would then be listed below the heading alongside the spaces for voters to select if they should be retained.
According to the Colorado Blue Book, Amendment W helps make the ballot more concise and reader-friendly. A well-designed and shorter ballot will allow voters to complete it more efficiently, which may encourage voter participation.
However, opponents of the amendment, per the Blue Book, find the amendment unnecessary and "risks confusing voters."
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"Voters may be uncertain whether they are casting votes in a multi-candidate election or for each individual justice or judge," the Blue Book states. "This potential confusion may increase the likelihood that voters will skip judicial retention questions."
The fiscal impact of passing Amendment W, according to the Blue Book, would decrease county clerk and recorder workload by a minimal amount and may reduce ballot printing and mailing costs.