Code Section
Colorado > Colorado Electoral Code > Initiative And Referendum

1-40-120. Filing in federal court

Overview of Statute

A petition that is insufficient due to failure to comply with federal law, rule, or regulation may be withdrawn if in compliance with the statutory requirements.



In case a complaint has been filed with the federal district court on the grounds that a petition is insufficient due to failure to comply with any federal law, rule, or regulation, the petition may be withdrawn by the two persons designated pursuant to section 1-40-104 to represent the signers of the petition and, within fifteen days after the court has issued its order in the matter, may be amended and refiled as an original petition. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the timely filing of a protest to any original petition, including one that has been amended and refiled. No person shall be entitled, pursuant to this section, to amend an amended petition.

Source: L. 93: Entire article amended with relocations, p. 689, § 1, effective May 4.

Editor’s note: This section is similar to former § 1-40-109 (2)(b) as it existed prior to 1993.

Annotator’s note. The following annotations include cases decided under former provisions similar to this section.

Holding that the provision that a rejected petition for the initiation of a measure may be refiled “as an original petition” after amendment is to be construed, not that it must be refiled within the statutory time fixed for the initial filing of such petitions, but after being refiled it is to be considered “as an original petition”. Brownlow v. Wunch, 103 Colo. 120, 83 P.2d 775 (1938).

Holding that the former section, which provided that a rejected petition may be amended and refiled as an original, did not subject a cured petition to the deadline set forth in Colo. Const. art. V, § 11 (2). Montero v. Meyer, 795 P.2d 242 (Colo. 1990) (decided under law in effect prior to 1989 amendment).

Holding that but where a petition for the initiation of a constitutional amendment is filed within the time fixed by statute, in the event of protest and rejection, the sponsors, at their election, are entitled to refile the petition when amended within the fifteen days allowed by this section. Brownlow v. Wunch, 103 Colo. 120, 83 P.2d 775 (1938).

Holding that this is true even though the refiling date may fall beyond the six-month period fixed by § 1-40-104 for the filing of original petitions. Brownlow v. Wunch, 103 Colo. 120, 83 P.2d 775 (1938).

Holding that there is no statutory authorization for a protest against the filing, or refiling after withdrawal, of a petition, to initiate a measure under the initiative and referendum. Brownlow v. Wunch, 102 Colo. 447, 80 P.2d 444 (1938).

Moreover, when a petition to initiate a measure under initiative and referendum is once withdrawn, it passes from official control and may be tampered with, amended, or destroyed. Robinson v. Armstrong, 90 Colo. 363, 9 P.2d 481 (1932); Brownlow v. Wunch, 102 Colo. 447, 80 P.2d 444 (1938).

Holding that if the petition is withdrawn, no review can thereafter be prosecuted because without the petition no court could adjudicate its sufficiency. Robinson v. Armstrong, 90 Colo. 363, 9 P.2d 481 (1932).

Holding that an action to review an order of the secretary of state declaring a referendum petition insufficient cannot be left standing until the petition is amended and refiled, and later tried on an issue which did not exist when the cause was instituted. Robinson v. Armstrong, 90 Colo. 363, 9 P.2d 481 (1932).

Holding that an action for review cannot survive a withdrawal to be further prosecuted on amendment and refiling because if refiled it comes back “as an original petition”. Robinson v. Armstrong, 90 Colo. 363, 9 P.2d 481 (1932).

Holding that the withdrawal of such a petition is equivalent to the dismissal of an action to review. Robinson v. Armstrong, 90 Colo. 363, 9 P.2d 481 (1932).

Holding that a demand for its withdrawal and a suit in mandamus to enforce that demand must necessarily have the same effect. Robinson v. Armstrong, 90 Colo. 363, 9 P.2d 481 (1932).
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 [Person]

Any natural person, partnership, committee, association, corporation, labor organization, political party, or other organization or group of persons. Section 2(11) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

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 [Election]

Any election under the “Uniform Election Code of 1992” or the “Colorado Municipal Election Code of 1965”, article 10 of title 31, C.R.S. C.R.S. § 1-7.5-103.

Definition [Secretary]

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


Colorado Cases

Case Name: Brownlow v. Wunsch

Citation: 103 Colo. 120, 83 P.2d 775 (1938)

Year: 1938

Case URL:

Case Summary:

  1. Colo. Stat. Ann. ch. 86, § 6 (1935), states that, in case an initiative petition be declared insufficient in form or number of signatures of qualified electors, it may be withdrawn by a majority in number of the persons representing the signers of such petition, and may, within 15 days thereafter, be amended or additional names signed thereto as in the first instance, and refiled as an original petition. The amended petition here was timely refiled under § 6. The six-month limitation for the original petition did not apply.
  2. § 6 and Colo. Const. art. V, § 1 intended that the identity of the affiant as being a qualified elector might be established prima facie by a recital to that effect in the affidavit. It is certain under the express words of the Constitution that a petition so verified shall be prima facie evidence that the signatures thereon are genuine and the persons signing the same are electors.
  3. To the extent that the fraud charged in a protest of an initiative petition is premised on advertisement for circulators and the latter being paid for names procured, it is sufficient to say that this practice is not prohibited by either the Constitution or statutes.

Case Name: Brownlow v. Wunch

Citation: 102 Colo. 447, 80 P.2d. 444 (1938)

Year: 1938

Case URL:

Case Summary: Holding that a party fearing injury due to a ballot initiative may not intervene. The secretary of state's actions were merely ministerial acts, which did not mandate consideration of the potential intervenor's grievances.

Case Name: Robinson v. Armstrong

Citation: 90 Colo. 363, 9 P.2d 481 (1932)

Year: 1932

Case URL:

Case Summary: Holding that a court may not review a petition after plaintiffs withdrew it. Also, judicial review became moot on another petition after the court held in favor of the plaintiff.

Out-of-State Cases

Federal Cases

Case Name: Montero v. Meyer

Citation: 861 F.2d 603 (10th Cir. 1988)

Federal Circuit Court: 10th Circuit Court

Year: 1988

Case URL:

Case Summary: Holding that “electoral process” to which Act's minority language provisions applied did not commence under state law until measure was certified for placement on ballot, and signing of petitions was not “voting”; district court erred in giving deference to federal regulation implementing Voting Rights Act's minority language provisions; and petitions were not provided by state to make minority language provisions operative.

Regulations & Guidance