Original URL:  http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36%257E64%257E966836,00.html

Anti-bilingual ed measure losing, but support growing
Denver Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 03, 2002

By Ryan Morgan

With two days until the election, Amendment 31 has weathered an expensive campaign dedicated to its defeat and gained significant support, according to polling data released Saturday.

As recently as one week ago, 54 percent of likely voters surveyed opposed the controversial anti-bilingual education measure, and 34 percent favored it, following a $3 million ad campaign paid for by Amendment 31 opponents.

But support for the measure has climbed to 40 percent, with 47 percent opposing it, according to a poll conducted by Ciruli Associates for The Denver Post, 9News and radio station KOA-AM. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

And pollster Floyd Ciruli said support may be stronger than the data indicates.

"The public is in favor of people learning English as soon as possible," he said.

Likely voters interviewed last week all voiced support for Amendment 31.

Michael Narey, a Lakewood Republican, is one of the voters who said he hopes the measure will pass.

"I think that I will probably vote for it," he said. "In my business, I go around to a lot of businesses that have a lot of people working for them and none of them speaks English. It shows how the education is working right now. It's not
working a bit. It's so bad, that it's time for a change."

Robert Martin, a 60-year-old Democrat from Rifle, agreed.

"I think if they want to be up here, they've got to learn English or go back to where they came from," he said.

While the fate of Amendment 31 remains up in the air, the likely outcomes appear clearer for some of the other ballot initiatives, particularly those proposing to change the way campaigns and elections are conducted.

Most voters - 44 percent - oppose Referendum A, which would end term limits for district attorneys, while 36 percent support the measure.

Fifty-four percent of likely voters support Amendment 27, which would limit campaign contributions for statewide offices to $500, and 27 percent oppose it.

"In general, I feel like there's too much money changing hands," said Samuel Anderson, 42, a Democrat from Shawnee who plans to vote for the measure. "I think people who have more say are the ones who have more money."

Amendment 28, which would mandate the use of mail-in ballots for all elections statewide, was also enjoying strong support, with 50 percent of likely voters supporting it and 38 percent opposed. Those polled said they liked the idea of
making it easier to vote.

But not all measures designed to increase turnout are faring well. Amendment 30, which would abolish the rule requiring voters to register a month before Election Day and instead allow same-day registration, is supported by 38 percent of likely voters, while 55 percent oppose it.

This despite an ad aired by supporters featuring an endorsement from Broncos running back Terrell Davis.

Ciruli said voters are wary of fraud and don't want to support any law that could lead to Election Day shenanigans.

"People are seeing so many errors and mistakes in the balloting process right now," he said. "There's a natural discussion about whether these will undermine" the election process.

And that's exactly why Martin, the Rifle Democrat, said he opposes the amendment.

"I think it's going to leave too much room for graft," he said. "I don't have a lot of trust in my fellow human beings."

Those polled were also dismissive of Amendment 29, which would eliminate the caucus system as a means for choosing candidate for the primary and instead require candidates to gather signatures to get onto the ballot. About 32
percent of those polled supported it, while 38 percent were opposed.

"I thought it was a great experience," said Narey, who took part in a Republican caucus last year. "I think people should try to be a part of it. I'd hate to see it disappear."


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