COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., August 7, 2013—The Libertarian Party of Colorado filed suit today for emergency relief in Denver District Court against Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler for violating provisions of the Colorado Constitution that provide fair access to the ballot by all qualified candidates.
At issue is a July 22 emergency rule concerning recall successor candidates for Senate District 11 (Colorado Springs) and Senate District 3 (Pueblo), requiring a 10 day deadline for nominating petitions in a recall election. The purpose of the short deadline was to allow time for printing and mailing of ballots in advance of the September 10 election date. That meant the last day to submit completed petitions was July 29.
However, Article XXI, Section 3 of the Colorado Constitution allows any qualified candidate the right to submit completed nominating petitions up to 15 days in advance of the election date.
“It is clear that this hasty rule by the Secretary of State conflicts with the Constitution, and we have filed suit to ensure that we have the full time granted by the people of Colorado,” said Libertarian Party State Chair, Jeff Orrok, adding, “We oppose any attempt by the legislative or executive branches to deny our candidates, our members, and the voters of Districts 3 and 11 their fundamental rights and the ability to choose the best replacements for these overreaching senators.”
The new Colorado election law specifically changed existing law which stated that recall elections had to be cast in person, at polling locations. Under the old law, allowing candidates to collect signatures until 15 before the election wouldn’t have been a problem.
Democrat Sonia Negrete-Winn had failed to get enough signatures by the deadline to be placed on the Pueblo ballot. Co-plaintiffs in the suit include Richard Anglund of Pueblo and Gordon Butt of Colorado Springs, both of whom reportedly want to collect petition signatures to run.
The Libertarian Party stands for equal access to the ballot by all candidates regardless of affiliation. “Unlike some in the two major parties who have sought to shut out candidates from other parties—and even some from within their own ranks—all we seek is a level playing field and adherence to the Constitution,” remarked Orrok.
The Libertarian Party anticipates an immediate hearing and is confident the court will rule in its favor, since there is a body of case law that supports its position. If the judge rules in the plaintiffs’ favor, they expect the Secretary of State to be ordered to accept nominating petitions through Monday, August 26 and the county clerks to be ordered not to distribute ballots without the inclusion of candidates who submit sufficient signatures by that date.
El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams said tonight that 650 ballots for the military were due to be mailed tomorrow, August 8 and the rest of the ballots would be mailed on August 19. The date of the election cannot be moved.
By focusing on election law and ignoring the the Colorado constitution, the drafters of House Bill 1303 have created a situation in which the all mail-in recall election may well be impossible.
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