The success of a recent constitutional challenge to ballot access and mail-balloting rules formerly governing Colorado's historic legislative Recall elections has triggered the release of new rules governing the September 10th vote. After the Colorado Supreme Court rejected an appeal challenging the Denver District Court ruling, the Colorado Secretary of State issued the new rules ("Order 13-003 and Temporary Election Rule 32.7") following an expedited period of public comment late last Friday.
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).
Since the constitutional provisions governing ballot access set the deadline for submitting candidate petitions at 15 days before the election date
Candidates for the office may be nominated by petition, as now provided by law, which petition shall be filed in the office in which petitions for nomination to office are required by law to be filed not less than fifteen days before such recall election. (Article XXI, Section 3)
the requirement for "all-mail-ballot" elections set forth in statute was overridden (and negated) by the primacy of the constitutional language, resulting in the order for the Recall vote to be conducted as "polling place elections." (Election Rule 32.7)
Other provisions of the "mail-ballot elections" statute (HB13-1303) , widely criticized as facilitating voter fraud (a Colorado Springs Gazette editorial, "Morse-backed election overhaul may lead to rampant voter fraud," was particularly blunt) were also clarified in the newly-issued election rules.
In particular, the rules clarified some of the registration and residency requirements most generally considered conducive to fraud or strategic vote-shifting (a.k.a. "gypsy voting"):
AN ELECTOR MUST ESTABLISH A RESIDENCE BEFORE REGISTERING TO VOTE OR CHANGING HIS OR HER RESIDENCE IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 1-2-102, C.R.S. AN ELECTOR’S RESIDENCE IS HIS OR HER PRIMARY HOME TO WHICH HE OR SHE, WHENEVER ABSENT, HAS THE PRESENT INTENT OF RETURNING. AN ELECTOR ESTABLISHES A RESIDENCE EITHER BY MAINTAINING A RESIDENCE AS HIS OR HER PRIMARY HOME OR BY PHYSICALLY MOVING TO A NEW RESIDENCE WITH THE INTENT TO MAINTAIN THAT RESIDENCE AS A PRIMARY HOME. INTENT TO MOVE, IN AND OF ITSELF,DOES NOT ESTABLISH RESIDENCE. AND NEITHER A BUSINESS NOR A TEMPORARY HOTEL ROOM IS A VALID RESIDENCE. UPON ESTABLISHING A NEW RESIDENCE THE ELECTOR MUST UPDATE HIS OR HER VOTER REGISTRATION RECORD WITH THE COUNTY CLERK AND RECORDER OF THE COUNTY TO WHICH THE ELECTOR MOVED.
Ironically, even though the bill's sponsor (Angela Giron) had requested that the Secretary of State address the 'gypsy voting" issue (at a 5 August meeting of a committee working on enacting the elections law), the clarification of residency requirements was criticized by "Top Democrats in the Colorado House of Representatives on Monday."
(Perhaps they considered "gypsy voting" as not a bug, but a feature?)
Barring any formal complaint or legal challenge, however, the rules issued by the Colorado Secretary of State will govern the September 10th Colorado Recall elections.
Read more about the Colorado Recall election rules and how they were adopted:
- ORDER 13-003 and Temporary Rule 32 7
- Draft Elections 2013 Recall Rules
- 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 August)
- Colorado Supreme Court rejects appeal to Colorado Recall lawsuit ruling (16 August)
- Denver District Judge upholds Constitution over election law statute in Colorado Recall legal challenge (12 August)