11/7/2018Aurora, Colorado Voters Reject Red Light Cameras
Two-thirds of voters in Aurora, Colorado rejected red light cameras at the ballot box.
Turnout was high Tuesday as residents of Aurora, Colorado, cast their ballots demanding that the red light camera program be shut down. Two out of three voters said "no" when asked whether they wanted the photo ticketing program to continue, marking the thirty-eighth time the public has rejected photo enforcement in a referendum (view list).
Unlike the majority of such contests in other cities, the Aurora city council added the question to the ballot on its own initiative. The council came up with the idea of a referendum while the fate of similar programs statewide appeared in doubt, as the Colorado legislature had previously adopted a bill that would have forced every city to obtain the consent of voters before continuing to use photo enforcement. Citing the loss of local revenue, however, Governor John Hickenlooper (D) vetoed the measure along with a second bill that would have banned cameras outright.
Over its twelve-year history, Aurora's program has proved to be highly lucrative. Between 2013 and 2017, Conduent (Xerox) mailed out 286,230 tickets worth $21,467,250. More than one out of every three of those tickets went out to cars that made slow, right hand turns on red.
Despite the financial success, council support for the program began to wane. A report from 2011 found Aurora's cameras had no effect on the number of accidents at monitored intersections (view report), but the city council decided to expand the program anyway. In 2010, the contract with Conduent (Xerox) was renewed by a 7 to 4 council vote. The margin narrowed to 5 to 3 in 2016. The decision to ask the voters for their opinion was put forwared by Mayor Bob LeGare and vocal camera proponent Bob Roth. Ultimately, only councilman Charlie Richardson voted against putting the issue on the ballot.
This is the first time Colorado voters have been asked to weigh in on photo enforcement. Residents of Arizona, California, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas and Washington have been asked to cast ballots on the use of automated ticketing machines in 41 electoral contests. Camera advocates have only won three of those elections.