Aug 13, 2013 8:00 PM by Andy Koen
The latest interpretation of Colorado election law seems to favor procrastinators. Those wanting to run in the John Morse and Angela Giron recall elections have 13 more days to petition their way onto the ballot.
Ruling in a lawsuit filed by the Colorado Libertarian Party last night, Denver District Court Judge Robert McGahey upheld the state constitution which provides a 15 day deadline to submit signatures to appear on the ballot in recall elections.
Secretary of State Scott Gessler put a 10 day deadline in place following the July 18 announcement of a special election date by Governor John Hickenlooper. He cited House Bill 1303 as providing the legal guidance for that deadline.
District Court Judge Robert McGahey said in his ruling the state constitution cannot be ignored, and he called HB 1303 "flawed" for its constitutional conflicts.
"Anyone else can go in and say hey I heard on the news today that you can turn in successor petitions all the way up to August 26th, I want to run," explained El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams.
He says the last minute changes essentially rule out mail-in voting for the September 10 special election. Likewise, the number of early voting days will either be limited or excluded as well.
Some 645 ballots for the election were already mailed to deployed members of the military who live in Senate District 11.
"We're going to be sending out a notice to them, letting them know and then we're going to be working very hard to make sure the men and women who serve our nation have a full opportunity to vote in this election," Williams said.
He adds that as long as the new ballots are mailed by Election Day, they will be counted.
Pueblo Democrat Richard Anglund and Colorado Springs Libertarian Gordon Butt were among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Jeff Orrok, Chairman of the Colorado Libertarian Party, says they needed the extra time to find a candidate.
"We believed that we needed to pursue a lawsuit in order to basically force the secretary to adhere to the constitution," Orrok said.
Even with the extra time, Orrok recognizes it will be a challenge to get his candidate on the ballot in time.
"So, we're going to have to work real hard and I hope I can find enough volunteers to come out and gather signatures."
In a statement, El Paso County Democratic Party Chair Kathleen Ricker voiced concerns about the ability of members of the military to participate in the election.
"What steps are being taken to inform the voters that the rules have been changed? How can we prevent voters from being completely disenfranchised? I have to wonder if the ultimate goal has been keep people from voting," Ricker said.
House Bill 1303 was passed on a party line vote by Democrats at the close of the legislative session. Angela Giron was the lone sponsor of the bill in the State Senate.