The Colorado Courts have once again weighed in on Colorado’s historic legislative Recall elections after hearing a challenge to proposed rules allowing E-mail balloting (potentially including both delivery and return of ballots by E-mail for the general voting public, on request), absentee ballots and early voting.
The latest round of legal wrangling was set off by a "Motion to Amend Judgment" filed by the Colorado Secretary of State on 24 August (Saturday) seeking Denver District Court Judge Robert McGahey's approval of final (well, intended to be final) adjustments to the rules governing the Recall elections
(set for September 10th).
Secretary Gessler's "Motion to Amend Judgment" drew a challenge from the Libertarian Party plaintiffs in the original successful constitutional challenge to ballot access and mail-balloting rules, who filed a Response in Opposition on Tuesday, 27 August (on the same day, the Secretary of State's office invalidated over half of the petition signatures turned in to qualify the Libertarian, Jan Brooks, as a successor candidate for the ballot in the SD-11 Morse recall election).
Remaining parties to the original lawsuit, including Pueblo County Clerk & Recorder Gilber "Bo" Ortiz and Democrat Party "go-to" attorney Mark Grueskin, piled on with their own "Motion Challenging" and "Motion to Intervene", respectively.
Following what was no doubt a long night of stimulating reading, Denver District Court Judge McGahey presided over a hearing on the respective Motions on Wednesday, and earlier today (Thursday) struck down some of the rules previously published by the Colorado Secretary of State, particularly those dealing with "Emergency" ballot requests, absentee mail ballots and E-mail voting.
El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams summarized the changes in a communique distributed to candidates, party officials and other select interested parties (Important Changes on Elections Rules):
Based on Pueblo County’s challenge to the Rules issued by the Secretary of State, earlier today the District Judge ruled that the SOS Rules cannot contradict the portions of Colorado election law that are not unconstitutional Therefore, several changes important to voters are occurring:
1. All residents may request a ballot be mailed to them. BUT
a. If the request is not received by the Clerk & Recorder by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, September 3, the ballot cannot be mailed.
b. The ballot cannot be electronically transmitted from our office to the individual, but instead must be mailed (for requests received by September 3) or picked up by the voter at our main office by Friday, September 6.
c. The ballot must be returned to the Clerk & Recorder by 7 p.m. on September 10. Colorado law provides the eight-day return extension (with mailing by 9/10) only to UOCAVA voters.
d. For voters who submit the prior form by the September 3rd deadline will be mailed the ballot as provided above.
e. We are contacting the 53 voters who previously were sent excuse-based ballots electronically and we are mailing them a ballot.
2. New forms for emergency (for which electronic transmission but not hand-delivery is permitted) and for mail-in ballot will be placed on our website as soon as we have them. The SOS anticipates this will be by the end of the day to day.
3. Several other minor changes were made.
Pueblo County Clerk & Recorder Ortiz also won a challenge to begin early voting beginning tomorrow, Friday 30 August, and to send out absentee ballots by mail on request ("no excuse absentee ballots"). Due to an ongoing legal challenge to the Colorado Secretary of State's determination of insufficiency for petitions submitted to add Libertarian Jan Brooks to the SD-11 (Morse) Recall ballot, El Paso County still must delay printing ballots or opening early voting until that is resolved (by the start of next week).
Read more about legal challenges in the Colorado Recall elections:
- Rule 32. Rules Concerning Recall
- 8 24 2013 FINAL CRCP 59 Motion to Amend Judgment
- Response in Opposition to Secretary's CRCP 59 a 4 Motion
- Pueblo Clerk & Recorder Bo Ortiz Motion Challenging
- 8 28 13 Motion to Intervene VoteVets
- Colorado Supreme Court strikes down Recall voting rules as unconstitutional, forcing changes in Colorado Recall Elections (27 August)
- Colorado Supreme Court once again asked to weigh in on Colorado Recall elections (26 August)
- Colorado Recall election rules finalized (24 August)
- Colorado Recall lawsuit success triggers new rules for historic Colorado Recall elections (21 August)
- Colorado Supreme Court rejects appeal to Colorado Recall lawsuit ruling – Recall to go forward as polling place election (16 August)
- Denver District Judge upholds Constitution over election law statute in Colorado Recall legal challenge (12 August)