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Coloradans can vote early, vote often in recall election on gun opponents
DENVER — Next week’s historic Colorado recall election is being viewed as a key litmus test of the nation’s appetite for gun control laws, but it’s also the test run for the state’s hotly contested elections law.
The Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act, passed by the Democratic-controlled legislature in May with no Republican votes, allows same-day voter registration and makes mail-in voting the norm. But it goes even further than that, critics say.
What if you live in Boulder but want to vote in the Colorado Springs legislative recall election? There’s a way. What if you want to vote in both the Colorado Springs and Pueblo recalls? That’s also possible. What if you’re a Colorado College student who lives in Michigan but wants to cast a ballot? No problem.
State officials are pushing back at the doomsayers, but that’s how critics and some elections analysts are interpreting the law, known as House Bill 1303, which they say threatens to turn the two recall elections Tuesday into a statewide free-for-all.
“Since the passage of this new horrendous voter law, it’s not get-out-the-vote that counts; it’s bringing in the votes from outside your district that’s going to count,” said Jon Caldara, president of the free-market Independence Institute in Denver.
The Colorado flap is emerging as dozens of states battle over the balance between curbing voter fraud and encouraging voter turnout. At least six states — Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin — are fighting lawsuits claiming that requiring photo identification amounts to voter suppression, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In Colorado, the Independence Institute debuted a website last weekend called Bring in the Vote, which explains how the election law works and lists the options available to Colorado voters.
“This is a public service to anyone voting in Colorado who has lived in the state for at least 22 days that if they wish to vote in these recall elections, there’s a legal way to do so,” Mr. Caldara said. “I’m not calling on them to do so, but if you want your voice to be heard, you may do so by using this new election law sponsored by [state] Sens. Angela Giron and John Morse and signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper.”
Ms. Giron and Mr. Morse are the Democratic legislators facing recalls over their votes in favor of the sweeping gun control legislation signed into law in March. The elections bill initially was scheduled to take effect next year but later was tweaked to take effect immediately upon the governor’s signature.
“We don’t know who changed it, but we know it was changed after the petitions were pulled for the Giron and Morse recalls,” Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert said last week on KOA-AM’s “The Mike Rosen Show.”
Debate has raged since then over what exactly the law does and doesn’t allow. Several county clerks and elections analysts have raised alarms over key provisions, including the removal of the requirement for voters to live for any amount of time in the precinct in which they vote.
Rich Coolidge, spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, said Thursday the recalls are being treated as one election, and voters cannot cast ballots in both. He added that the state’s computerized system will detect any duplicate voters.
But Douglas County Clerk and Recorder Jack Arrowsmith said his understanding of the law is that anyone living anywhere in Colorado for at least 22 days may vote in the Pueblo or Colorado Springs recalls, as long as they stipulate their intent to live in the district, opening the door for so-called “gypsy voters.”
“Without further clarification from the secretary of state’s rule-making, I don’t believe any law would be broken,” said Mr. Arrowsmith, whose office is not administering either of the recalls.
Secretary of State Scott Gessler tried to reduce the potential for “gypsy voters” in his rule-making issued last month, but those rules were thrown out last week by a Denver District Court judge who said the rules were stricter than the law required.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Valerie Richardson covers politics and the West from Denver. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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