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The 2016 election is over - at least, the numbers part. What happens next? We're bringing you continuing coverage on what ballot measures passed and failed, what the reelected - and newly elected - officials have to say about the election, and what a Donald Trump presidency means for Colorado.Election Night Coverage2016 Election Results - in chart formKUNC's coverage, archived on Storify 00000173-b44e-de61-a5fb-f7cf7ec70001

Days Later, Vote To Remove Slavery Reference From Colorado Constitution Too Close To Call

Yes on T: Colorado
Rev. Tawana Davis, Rabbi Bernard Gerson, supporters of Amendment T, at a Yes on T rally.

A measure to eliminate the vestiges of slavery from Colorado’s Constitution was expected to pass easily during Tuesday’s election. All 100 members of the state legislature supported the idea. Religious leaders across the spectrum endorsed it. Labor unions, human rights advocates and community groups all rallied, saying it was time to take a provision that allows for slavery out of the constitution.

Yet several days after the election, Amendment T remains too close to call. Several counties, including Denver, Boulder, Arapahoe and Jefferson, are still tallying ballots, said Lynn Bartels, a spokeswoman for the office of the Secretary of State, which oversees the elections. 

The amendment seeks to strike a little-known, 140-year-old clause in the constitution that bans slavery except in the case of criminals.

“There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,” the constitution, approved in 1876, states. 

Numbers show the measure failing by 29,585 votes with more than 2.4 million ballots counted, according to state election data on Friday. That’s 50.60 percent against the amendment; 49.40 percent for.

A clear picture on whether the measure failed or not could come as early as Monday, Bartels said.

The state legislature had voted unanimously to refer the amendment to voters earlier this year. Though there was no evidence criminals had been made into slaves in the state, supporters said slavery is not a Colorado value and the measure should be taken out of the constitution.

Supporters across Facebook and Twitter wondered if people voted “No” for the measure when they meant to vote “Yes,” saying the wording of the ballot measure was difficult to understand.

Amendment T asked voters: “Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning the removal of the exception to the prohibition of slavery and involuntary servitude when used as punishment for persons duly convicted of a crime?”

Colorado has faced a small backlash on social media for failing to pass the amendment.

“If you need further proof this is the year of the racists, Amendment T is running 50-50 in Colorado right now,” a tweet typical of public opinion stated.

There was no organized opposition to the measure, but some worried that striking the involuntary servitude provision could jeopardize community service programs that keep criminal offenders out of jails. The Yes on T: Colorado campaign said on its website that the amendment “is not intended to have any effect on prison work programs."

As investigative reporter for KUNC, I take tips from our audience and, well, investigate them. I strive to go beyond the obvious, to reveal new facts, to go in-depth and to bring new perspectives and personalities to light.
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