Code Section
Colorado > Colorado Electoral Code > Initiative And Referendum

1-40-119. Procedure for hearings

Overview of Statute

Procedural requirements for formal hearings protesting the sufficiency of signatures.



At any hearing held under this article, the party protesting the finding of the secretary of state concerning the sufficiency of signatures shall have the burden of proof. Hearings shall be had as soon as is conveniently possible and shall be concluded within thirty days after the commencement thereof, and the result of such hearings shall be forthwith certified to the designated representatives of the signers and to the protestors of the petition. The hearing shall be subject to the provisions of the Colorado rules of civil procedure. Upon application, the decision of the court shall be reviewed by the Colorado supreme court.

Source: L. 93: Entire article amended with relocations, p. 689, § 1, effective May 4.L. 95: Entire section amended, p. 436, § 14, effective May 8.

Editor’s note: This section is similar to former § 1-40-109 (2)(a) as it existed prior to 1993, and the former § 1-40-119 was relocated to § 1-40-132 (1).

Petitioners properly sought district court review under this section and § 1-40-118 without first pursuing the administrative remedies outlined in § 1-40-132 (1). Section 1-40-132 (1) is inapplicable to determination whether a petition has a sufficient number of valid signatures to qualify for placement of an initiated measure on the ballot. Fabec v. Beck, 922 P.2d 330 (Colo. 1996).
Scientific and cultural facilities districts, protests regarding sufficiency of petitions for formation, hearings and appeals, see § 32-13-108.
Definition [State]

A state of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. C.R.S. § 1-8.3-102.

Definition [Ballot]

(a) A federal write-in absentee ballot;

(b) A ballot specifically prepared or distributed for use by a covered voter in accordance with this article; or

(c) A ballot cast by a covered voter in accordance with this article.

(2) “Covered voter” means:

(a) A uniformed-service voter defined in paragraph (a) of subsection (9) of this section who is a resident of this state but who is absent from this state by reason of active duty and who otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements;

(b) An overseas voter who, before leaving the United States, was last eligible to vote in this state and, except for a state residency requirement, otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements;

(c) An overseas voter who, before leaving the United States, would have been last eligible to vote in this state had the voter then been of voting age and, except for a state residency requirement, otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements; or

(d) An overseas voter who was born outside the United States, is not described in paragraph (b) or (c) of this subsection (2), and, except for a state residency requirement, otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements if the last place where a parent, legal guardian, spouse, or civil union partner of the voter was, or under this article would have been, eligible to vote before leaving the United States is within this state.

C.R.S. § 1-8.3-102.

Definition [Section]

A bound compilation of initiative forms approved by the secretary of state, which shall include pages that contain the warning required by section 1-40-110 (1), the ballot title, the abstract required by section 1-40-110 (3), and a copy of the proposed measure; succeeding pages that contain the warning, the ballot title, and ruled lines numbered consecutively for registered electors’ signatures; and a final page that contains the affidavit required by section 1-40-111 (2). Each section shall be consecutively prenumbered by the petitioner prior to circulation.

Definition [Secretary]

The Colorado secretary of state. C.R.S. § 1-1.5-102.


Colorado Cases

Case Name: Fabec v. Beck

Citation: 922 P.2d 330 (Colo. 1996)

Year: 1996

Case URL:

Case Summary: Holding that no administrative review of Secretary's determination concerning sufficiency of signatures is required before protestor can seek judicial relief; it was proper for Secretary to combine valid signatures determined by line-by-line examination of both the original petition and the addendum rather using a random sampling method; substantial compliance is standard applied in assessing effect of signature deficiencies; discrepancies in circulator's date of signing and date of notary acknowledgement made affected petitions invalid; petition that contained altered date next to circulator's signature was invalid; changes to circulator's signing date did not constitute substantial compliance; there was substantial compliance with notarized affidavit requirement; and there was substantial compliance with signature requirements despite omission of signing date from one circulator affidavit.

Case Name: Armstrong v. Davidson

Citation: 10 P.3d 1278 (Colo. 2000)

Year: 2000

Case URL:

Case Summary: Holding that proponent of initiative may begin circulating initiative petition once Title Board has denied a petition for rehearing as to titles and summary or once time for filing a petition for rehearing has expired, even while an appeal of Title Board's action is pending.

Case Name: Buckley v. Chilcutt

Citation: 968 P.2d 112 (Colo. 1998)

Year: 1998

Case URL:

Case Summary: Holding that the secretary of state must certify the number of signatures on a ballot initiative for medical marijuana before including the initiative on a ballot. The sectary initially rejected the initiative because of an insufficient number of signatures. After the elector protested this decision, the secretary overturned its decision and agreed to place the initiative on the ballot while she conducted a line-by-line review.

Case Name: Loonan v. Woodley

Citation: 882 P.2d 1380 (Colo. 1994)

Year: 1994

Case URL:

Case Summary: Holding that substantial compliance was the appropriate standard for determining whether petitions conformed with statutory requirements; circulators' affidavits which were missing statement that they had read and understood laws governing petition circulation did not substantially comply with statute; and read-and-understand requirement did not unconstitutionally infringe on the constitutional right to petition.

Out-of-State Cases

Federal Cases

Case Name: Grant v. Meyer

Citation: 828 F.2d 1446 (10th Cir. 1987)

Federal Circuit Court: 10th Circuit Court

Year: 1987

Case URL:

Case Summary: Holding that a ban on solicitors' compensation violated the First Amendment due to its attendant restrictions on political speech. The court applied strict scrutiny, and held that the government interest is better served with others measures.

Regulations & Guidance