Court appeal promises more legal wrangling over recall elections

4:38 PM, Aug 13, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - A political-science class in the future will not flip through their e-textbooks to find Colorado's 2013 recall elections held up as a model of how to do it right.

At best, the recall elections against Democratic State Senators John Morse of Colorado Springs and Angela Giron of Pueblo are examples of cobbling something together in the face of some serious obstacles.

As of Tuesday, the elections are probably still going to take place on Sept. 10, and that voters will most likely need to appear at the polls in person, except for military and overseas voters.

The El Paso and Pueblo county clerks don't think they can print mail-in ballots in time over an issue that's being appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.

"There is nothing about this election that is going correctly," 9NEWS political analyst Floyd Ciruli said.

The latest round of complications stems from a ruling Monday by Denver District Court Judge Roberty McGahey, who handed a victory to the state Libertarian party over the deadline for candidates to get on the ballots.

Two candidates were turned away late in July when they applied to become candidates with the secretary of state's office after missing a July 29 deadline that was created by a state statute.

In his ruling, the judge said that statute was clearly unconstitutional. The state constitution contains language that allows candidates to qualify for the ballot as late as 15 days before the election.

Mark Grueskin, a prominent elections law attorney for Democrats, tells 9NEWS he plans to file an appeal Wednesday with the state supreme court.

Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz told 9NEWS he plans to join the appeal and will ask the state supreme court for a stay of the lower court's ruling. The appeal will be filed Wednesday.

As of Tuesday, the El Paso County clerk and secretary of state were mulling whether to appeal as well.

"Our job right now is to make this election work," Secretary of State Scott Gessler said.

"It's not a good way to run an election," Ciruli said. "You would probably want weeks for the opportunity to have some forums, and have some debates, and obviously just do the technical part of it: get the ballot correct and let people know there is an election."

An appeal could further confuse the process. It's unclear whether such a move might halt the elections.

For now, a spokesman for Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) said there are no plans to attempt a change to the Sept. 10 election date, because the 15-day rule creates problems sending out mail-in ballots regardless of when it takes place.

"It is democracy in action, however," Ciruli said. "You saw a group of very angry voters sign petitions. You're watching the Democratic party - the incumbents - defend themselves."

The senators are fighting to keep their jobs, pointing to their legislative records on a host of issues.

The recalls began over Morse and Giron's support of new gun-control laws, a fact that has drawn outside money from both sides of that issue to the races.

Both senators decided to fight through the recall elections, rather than step down.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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