After a successful constitutional challenge to ballot access and mail-balloting rules for Colorado’s historic legislative Recall elections earlier triggered the release of new rules governing the September 10th vote, additional comments and inputs led to some last-minute tweaking of the final election rules, issued late Friday afternoon.
The rules changes were made necessary because of conflicts between the provisions of the Colorado Constitution (Article XXI, Section 3) and recently-enacted state statute calling for “all-mail-balloting” (HB13-1303 - somewhat ironically, co-sponsored by the Recall targets, state senators John Morse of Colorado Springs SD-11 and Angela Giron of Pueblo’s SD-3).
The most important "tweaks" to the final rules were in the controversial area of 'Emergency Ballots' and Electronic (E-mail) Voting.
The draft rules issued last week contained provisions allowing a voter "temporarily absent from his or her county of residence" to apply for an emergency ballot, which could also be returned by electronic means (E-mail or FAX), a process generally reserved for military or overseas voters by exception (i.e., when otherwise unable to access snail-mail).
The final rules issued Friday afternoon (Rule 32. Rules Concerning Recall) eliminated this draft provision and replace it with a provision preserving the option to request and receive "emergency ballots" (including by electronic means) while clarifying that ballots must be returned by regular mail:
(f) An elector who cannot vote in person because the elector is absent from his or her county of residence during the period when polling locations are open may apply for an absentee ballot.
(1) The elector may request to receive the ballot by mail or electronic transmission.
(2) The elector must return the absentee ballot by regular mail, and the ballot must be post marked by 7:00pm on election day. The county clerk will process and count all timely post marked absentee ballots that are received within eight days after election day.
Other important provisions (in both the draft and final rules) address provisional ballots (32.7.7), election judges (32.7.8), and poll watchers (32.7.9), along with voter registration, including same-day and polling-place registration (32.7.3) - which, given widespread concerns about potential vote fraud enabled by the recently-enacted election law statute (HB13-1303) and the national attention focused on the Recall vote, are critical steps in enhancing confidence in a fair process and clean elections.
Read more about the Colorado Recall election rules and how they were adopted:
- Rule 32. Rules Concerning Recall
- ORDER 13-003 and Temporary Rule 32 7
- Draft Elections 2013 Recall Rules
- Colorado Recall lawsuit success triggers new rules for historic Colorado Recall elections (21 August)
- Gessler voter residency rule draws Democratic critics (Denver Post, 20 August)
- Williams Vows To Fight ‘Gypsy Voters’ In Morse Recall Election (Colorado Observer, 19 August)
- Morse-backed election overhaul may lead to rampant voter fraud (Colorado Springs Gazette, 16 Aug)
- 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)