Alleged voting irregularities in the Pueblo Colorado Recall Election (seeking to remove incumbent Democrat state senator Angela Giron) sparked filing of an Emergency Complaint and Request for Emergency Order seeking to delay processing of absentee ballots distributed under questionable circumstances.
The Complaint seeks to compel Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz to comply with Colorado and Federal election law by allowing authorized watchers to "verify the eligibility and accuracy of mail ballot applications and legal compliance of the delivery process."
The Complaint alleges multiple violations by Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz of both Colorado Revised Statutes (state election law) and the federal "Help America Vote Act of 2002, a.k.a. HAVA" legislation in administering the Pueblo Colorado Recall Election:
- Absentee ballot applications cannot be adequately challenged or verified for accuracy due to Clerk Ortiz interference with watcher duties.
- Absentee ballot distribution, voting and return managed without clear rules, statutes or guidelines, resulting in discriminatory practices.
- Manual count of paper ballots and VVPAT tapes is required
- Watchers cannot challenge voters’ eligibility at polls or access election records
- Convene a meeting of the canvass board to investigate voter complaints regarding voting devices.
1. As noted in the complaint, Colorado statute (C.R.S. 1-8-109, "Watchers at mail-in polling places" and C.R.S. 1-7-108, "Requirements of watchers") explicitly addresses poll watcher access to ballot processing:
Clerk Ortiz has repeatedly refused to provide watcher access to mail in ballot applications. Despite the clear language of CRS 1-8-109 that watchers may observe mail in ballot application processing, in conjunction with CRS 1-7-108 granting rights to “witness and verify each step in the process of the election,” and “assist in the correction of discrepancies,” Ortiz has refused to permit this basic verification. We have repeatedly referenced the statutes without success in gaining access.
2. The Pueblo County Clerk & Recorder's Office has reportedly distributed emergency ballots, email ballots, hand delivered ballots, group residential ballots, and “Absentee team” ballots in an apparently arbitrary and potentially discriminatory manner (essentially, cherry-picking Democrat-friendly districts). (See Exhibit B September 4 Complaint at 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
3. Numerous reports of voting machine irregularities (exacerbated by improper planning, notice, and conduct of the required Logic ad Accuracy Testing, or LAT) call into question the accurate processing of votes cast by machine. The Complaint calls for manual counting of paper ballots to confirm accuracy.
4. In apparent contravention of Colorado law and guidelines for poll watchers, the Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder's office has allegedly obstructed observation and verification of poll opening and voting documentation, voting equipment setup & operation, and/or verification of voter eligibility (according to procedures for eligibility challenges prior to recording votes per Colorado election law).
5. Finally, the Complaint alleges that "Clerk Ortiz has repeatedly refused to honor the requests to have the canvass board investigate the complaints" and calls for an order to convene the canvassing board to investigate reported voting irregularities.
Note also that if the allegations of obstructing poll watchers are proven, that is a criminal offense:
C.R.S. 1-13-702. Interfering with watcher. Any person who intentionally interferes with any watcher while he is discharging his duties set forth in section 1-7-108 (3) is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as provided in section 1-13-111.
C.R.S. 1-13-111. Penalties for election offenses. In all cases where an offense is denominated by this code as being a misdemeanor and no penalty is specified, the offender, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
References on the Emergency Complaint (and background) in the Colorado Recall election:
- Emergency HAVA and SOS Election Complaint 9.9.13
- Exhibit A Absentee Ballots
- Exhibit B September 4 Complaint
- Exhibit C Canvass Board Letter
- Exhibit D OrtizLetterTo Marks
- Exhibit D1 Marks to Ortiz
- Rule 32. Rules Concerning Recall
- Colorado Recall Election rules adjusted (again!) after legal challenges (29 August)
- 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)