Time Machine Tuesday: On the Ballot

Election day is quickly approaching and there are a number of important races and issues on this year’s ballot. (For nonpartisan analysis of the amendments and referenda on this year’s ballot, see the Colorado Legislative Council’s 2016 Blue Book.) The issues on a given years’ ballot offer insight on the values and priorities of Colorado citizens at a given time in our state’s history.  Here’s a look at initiatives and referenda in the past century, compiled using ballot analysis reports and official voter results:

10 Years Ago:
In 2006, issues being decided included domestic partnerships and the definition of marriage; marijuana possession; and whether to participate in an immigration lawsuit against the federal government.  Fiscal measures included school district spending requirements, property tax reduction for disabled veterans, and state business income tax deduction limits.  Similar to today, the 2006 ballot included measures on the minimum wage and the ease of amending the State Constitution.  Several government-focused issues also made the ballot, including judges’ term limits, “standards of conduct in government,” and recall deadlines.  For the results of this election, see the 2006 Abstract of Votes Cast.

20 Years Ago:
Issues on the 1996 ballot were a bit less controversial and included several natural resources issues, including state trust lands and “prohibited methods of taking wildlife.”  Perennial issues such as petitions, term limits, property tax exemptions, and campaign finance were again on the ballot.  Two interesting items up for decision included allowing limited gaming in Trinidad, and the definition of parental rights.  For the results of this election, see the 1996 Abstract of Votes Cast.

30 Years Ago:
In 1986 voters were asked to decide on a revamp of the State Personnel Board; county elected officials’ compensation; and home rule municipalities.  Also on the ballot was a measure similar to the future TABOR (passed in 1992) that would have required any new taxes or tax increases to go to the voters.  For the results of this election, see the 1986 Abstract of Votes Cast.

40 Years Ago:
There were many issues on the 1976 ballot, including exempting groceries from sales tax; returnable beverage container deposits; and repeal of the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment.  For the results of this election, see the 1976 Abstract of Votes Cast.

50 Years Ago:
A half-century ago Colorado voters were asked to decide on two property taxation measures and several measures defining state government operations.  The two controversial issues on the 1966 ballot included providing for daylight savings time in Colorado, and the question of whether capital punishment should be abolished in the state.  (For a history of Capital Punishment in Colorado see this page from the Colorado State Public Defender’s website.)  For the results of this election, see the 1966 Abstract of Votes Cast.

60 Years Ago:
Issues on the 1956 ballot included term limits; taxes; civil service; apportionment of the general assembly; and old age pensions.  For the results of this election, see the 1956 abstract of votes cast.

70 Years Ago:
In 1946, voters decided on secret ballots and old age pensions.  (For a look at this issue, Old Age Pensions in Colorado, a 1948 publication from the University of Colorado, is available for checkout from our library.)  For the results of this election, see the 1946 Abstract of Votes Cast.

80 Years Ago:
Occurring in the midst of the Great Depression, the 1936 election had Colorado voters decide on whether women could serve on juries; whether to exempt churches, schools, and cemeteries from property taxes; whether there should be a vehicle ownership tax; and whether the State should provide public assistance for Coloradans with tuberculosis.  Also on the ballot were several income tax measures as well as provision of funds for old age pensions.  The realities of the Great Depression are evident from these public assistance and revenue-generating ballot issues.  For the results of this election, see the 1936 Abstract of Votes Cast.

90 Years Ago:
In the Roaring ’20s, as the rates of vehicle ownership were on the rise, voters in 1926 were asked to decide on several motor vehicle tax issues, including a gas tax and a tax on motor vehicle purchases.  Elected officials’ salaries, and laws regulating the practice of dentistry and the Public Utilities Commission were also on the ballot, as was a measure to allow the “manufacture, importation, and sale of intoxicating liquors in Colorado.”  (Colorado had gone dry in 1916, the 1926 Colorado measure failed, and Prohibition was repealed nationwide in 1933).  For the results of this election, see the 1926 Abstract of Votes Cast.

100 Years Ago:
In 1916, during the height of the Progressive Era in Colorado, voters decided on “providing humane care and treatment for all the insane;” “manufacture and sale of beer,” and an “amendment to apply the merit system to…civil service.”  Other ballot issues included taxation, public school funding, regulations for the practice of medicine, “running of stock at large,” and holding a constitutional convention.  For the results of this election, see the 1916 Abstract of Votes Cast.

For other years’ election issues and results, see our library’s Blue Book Finding Aid and the Colorado Secretary of State’s Election Results Archive.