COLORADO SPRINGS, July 25, 2013—The Colorado recall elections to be held on September 10 will be conducted under new Colorado election laws passed by the Democrat-controlled legislature at the very end of the session in May. Senators Giron and Hudak, both under threat of recall at the time, reportedly pushed for the new law to take effect almost immediately.
Under the provisions of House Bill 1303, all elections in Colorado will be via mail-in ballot. The precinct polling place will be a thing of the past. Same-day voter registration and voting is allowed; there is no longer such a thing as a “provisional ballot.” Ballots will be mailed to all registered voters, inactive as well as active.
In Colorado, an inactive voter is one who has not voted in several elections. They are often people who have died or who have moved, either from house to house or out of state entirely. Even under existing law, the Secretary of State’s office had been prevented from cleaning up the voting rolls.
Before the new law, a person had until 30 days prior to an election to update their voter information. If someone moved into the state within 30 days of an election, they would not be eligible to vote. If someone changed address within the 30-day window, they could vote a provisional ballot.
Now all that is throw away. If you show up at one of a smaller number of “voter service centers” after Labor Day—in the case of these recall elections—and you’re breathing, you get to cast a ballot.
Voter ID was rejected by Democrats. A utility bill with an address on it is all that is needed.
El Paso County District Attorney Dan May says that under the old election law the emphasis was on fraud prevention. Under the new one, it will be tracking down the fraud and prosecuting it. It’s now a game of catch me if you can.
There will be two sections on the recall ballots. The first one will ask whether or not the senator should be recalled. The second section will allow voters to choose a successor candidate.
If the John Morse recall succeeds, the only successor candidate on the ballot is former city Councilman Bernie Herpin. If Angela Giron is recalled, former deputy police chief George Rivera will be on the ballot.
Sonia Negrete-Winn, a social worker who has lived in Pueblo for seven years, is also collecting signatures to be placed on the ballot. She said she does not support the recall, but wants to ensure a Democrat holds the seat. In El Paso County, Democrat Mike Merrifield declined to be placed on the ballot.
All three challengers have until Monday to turn in 1,000 valid voter signatures from supporters to make the ballot.
El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams says that ballots will be mailed to military and overseas voters on August 9. Ballots will be mailed to local voters starting August 19.
Ballots have to be received by the Clerk and Recorder’s Office by 7:00 p.m. September 10 in order to be counted. Voters can verify that their ballot was received by visiting the Go Vote Colorado website. There will be voter service centers set up after Labor Day as well as four 24-hour ballot drop-off locations.
Democrats, in opposing the recalls, have claimed that the elections would cost the taxpayers $250-$300,000 each. Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz reportedly felt that it was a waste of taxpayer’s money. Williams, by contrast, said that voting is a fundamental right and “it costs whatever it costs.” He estimated about $150-$180,000 for each election. Estimates vary depending on what is included and the new election law makes estimating even harder.
While Williams acknowledged that ballots are mailed to inactive voters, he is more concerned about fraud with in-person voting. If someone registers at the last minute, there is no guarantee that they actually live where they say they do.
However, Williams and May have a systematic approach to detecting and prosecuting vote fraud in El Paso County.
Williams says that his office checks the signatures of every single ballot and passes the questionable ones to the district attorney’s office. The DA’s office investigates every one and prosecutes where appropriate.
There were persistent accusations of fraud in Pueblo County in the November 2012 election. It is unknown whether vote fraud would be similarly prosecuted there.
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