According to Colorado’s Secretary of State, the proposed “personhood” amendment won’t make the 2012 ballot due to lack of signatures — and that decision is final. The Denver Post reports:

The Colorado secretary of state’s office said Tuesday the proposed anti-abortion “personhood” amendment will not be on the 2012 ballot — no matter the outcome of proponents’ planned legal action to prove they collected enough voter signatures.

The ballot certification deadline was Monday. Even if a judge rules personhood sponsors’ petition was sufficient, the measure would have to wait for the 2014 general election, secretary of state spokesman Andrew Cole told The Post Tuesday.

However, that’s not the end of the story. Personhood USA takes a different view:

Personhood USA founder Keith Mason said Tuesday supporters have a 30-day window to take legal action challenging Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s Aug. 29 determination that the Personhood Amendment failed to make the ballot — falling short by 3,859 signatures.

Petitioners collected 82,246 valid signatures of the 86,105 required, according to state officials. “We have until Sept. 28 to file our lawsuit. And the more we look, line by line, the more confident we are we have enough signatures,” Mason said. “We have recovered thousands of signatures.”

Personhood USA seems serious in their desire to make a legal challenge, as seen in this September 14th email to supporters:

We need your help! Last month we told you that volunteers worked tirelessly to collect over 112,000 signatures to get the Personhood Amendment on the ballot in Colorado. But the Secretary of State in Colorado has denied our request by claiming that we are 3,700 signatures short of qualifying for the ballot. This a purely political act, as many of the signatures discarded were actually valid signatures!

We must file a court challenge within 30 days, and we fully intend to do so. But we need your financial help! In order to continue our fight for the unborn and protect all innocent life we need to raise over $50,000 to combat the political machine in Colorado. …

They might win that legal challenge — or they might lose it. Basically, right now nobody knows whether “personhood” will be on the ballot in 2012 or not.

That’s hugely frustrating for me. All plans to update Ari Armstrong’s and my 2010 policy paper The “Personhood” Movement Is Anti-Life are up in the air until this matter is resolved. Right now, I’m not sure what kind of revisions we’ll want to make, because we may want to talk about the new language of the 2012 ballot measure or not.

Also, I don’t know whether I’ll want to raise money for those revisions or not, as I did in 2010. I’m not willing to slog through the burdens and risks of reporting again, as would be required if “personhood” makes the ballot, unless, that is, the court rules in our favor next week. In that case, I won’t have to report, even if “personhood” is on the ballot. That would be awesome.

Gah! The uncertainty is just killing me. These matters will be resolved soon, I know, but time is running short!

  • Ed Powell

    Diana, I’ve followed your struggles with this issue for a while now. Not being an attorney, I can’t give legal advice, but I think you really need to ask an attorney whether your position paper falls under the campaign finance laws at all. As long as you don’t specifically advocating voting “no” on a specific amendment, I don’t see how your paper as I’ve read it falls under campaign finance reforms. Your paper simply is an issue paper about the personhood issue, no different than half the policy papers written by think tanks or academics. I don’t see why you can’t raise unlimited funds for the writing of a paper, as long as the paper does not contain the magic words, :vote for” or “vote against.” What has your research into this issue found?

    • Diana Hsieh

      Uh, Ed, you do realize that I’m litigating that very matter in federal court on Friday, thanks to the pro bono work of the Center for Competitive Politics? (Perhaps you’ve missed the blog posts on that!)

      The fact is that it wouldn’t matter what an attorney or even the Secretary of State’s Office would say about whether CSG constitutes an “issue committee.” If I don’t file, anyone (literally) could drag me into court, and I’d not only have the attorney’s fees to contend with, but the possibility of $50 per violation per day fines, without limit (literally). I don’t think that CSG should qualify as an issue committee for writing a policy paper — for exactly the reasons argued in the lawsuit — but the law is unclear (and very wrong), and I’m not willing to risk having to pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

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