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Purposely casting ballot in wrong city, Coloradan shows flaws in new election law
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.— Jon Caldara has never actually lived in Colorado Springs — he’s a longtime Boulder resident — but Saturday he cast a ballot in the recall election of state Sen. John Morse, who represents a district in Colorado Springs.
Mr. Caldara says he did it to prove a point about the state’s new election law, which ushers in same-day voter registration but also appears to open the door for so-called “gypsy voters,” as long as they declare their intent to move to the new district when they cast their ballots.
“I went in there and voted a blank ballot to make sure there was no distraction from the point of this, which is how easy it is to move around voters to different districts where they’re needed,” Mr. Caldara said. “The big question was, ‘Can I get a ballot?’ And the answer is, ‘Yes, I can, and it’s perfectly legal.’”
Confusion over the new election law has added another layer of controversy to the state’s first-ever legislative recall election, which is being watched nationally as a referendum on gun control. Mr. Morse and state Sen. Angela Giron are fighting to keep their seats in the recall elections Tuesday, sparked by the legislators’ support for bills tightening access to firearms and ammunition.
Critics were quick to accuse Mr. Caldara of voter fraud. ProgressNow Colorado Executive Director Amy Runyon-Harms immediately called for El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams to refer the incident to the district attorney “for prosecution as a felony crime.”
“The fact is, Jon Caldara lives in Boulder, not in Colorado Springs, and he is willfully committing a felony by attesting otherwise — even if it’s a ‘political stunt,’” Ms. Runyon-Harms said in a statement.
Mr. Caldara countered by accusing her of trying to intimidate voters.
“These attempts at voter intimidation are repugnant, and they’re also illegal,” he said.
Ryan Parsell, spokesman for the local county clerk’s office, said Mr. Williams plans to refer any “suspicious activity” to the district attorney after the election, but declined to comment on the specifics of the Caldara case.
“The law says if somebody gives us an address and signs an affirmation saying that their intention is to live there, we have to let them vote,” Mr. Parsell said. “However, we reserve the right to report any suspicious activity to the district attorney, and that’s all that can be done at this point.”
Critics such as Mr. Caldara have lambasted Democrats over the Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act, calling the law either sloppy or designed to allow party power brokers to move voters from safe districts into tossup districts during close elections.
Democrats insist the law does nothing of the sort, but rather makes it easier for voters to cast ballots by eliminating the previous 29-day voter-registration requirement.
The new elections law originally was written to take effect in 2014 but was changed to kick in immediately upon the governor’s signature. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the bill in May, two months after recall efforts were launched against Mr. Morse and Ms. Giron.
Before voting, Mr. Caldara signed a document affirming that he was 18 and had lived in Colorado for at least 22 days. Asked to provide an address within District 11, he put down the address of “a buddy’s house, where I’m renting a room,” he said.
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About the Author
Valerie Richardson covers politics and the West from Denver. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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