The county will now take legal actions in an attempt to force Gov. John Hickenlooper to set a date for the recall election of Colorado Senate President John Morse.
The action echoes those recently taken by Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who hired a lawyer with ties to his old firm in an attempt to force Hickenlooper to set a date for a recall election.
Both challenges are scheduled to be heard in Denver District Court tomorrow. That’s also when Hickenlooper is expected to hear back on a preliminary injunction that will allow him to hold off on setting a date for the election until the court challenges against the recall end.
Both Gessler and Williams are Republicans who are expected to act as impartial officials concerning the recall process. Morse is a Democrat.
The governor must set an election date within 60 days of the petitions being certified by the Secretary of State. But there’s disagreement as to whether the clock starts ticking before the appeals process has been exhausted.
If and when the recall moves forward, Morse would face Republican challenger Bernie Herpin.
Commissioners Authorize Legal Action to Assure Legal Compliance in Recall Election
Clerk and Recorder Says Governor’s Delay in Setting Election Date Puts Voters Rights at Risk
El Paso County, CO., July 16, 2013 — At the request of the County Clerk and Recorder, El Paso County Commissioners today authorized the County Attorney’s Office to take whatever appropriate legal action it finds necessary to assure that the recall election in State Senate District 11 can be conducted in a manner that assures compliance with all state election laws and to protect the rights of El Paso County voters.
Clerk and Recorder Wayne W. Williams told Commissioners that recall petitions for State Senate District 11 were found valid by the Secretary of State’s Office on June 18, 2013. Subsequent challenges were addressed by the Secretary of State on July 3 and sent to the Governor on July 5. State law requires the Governor to order an election and set the date after receiving appropriate documentation from the Secretary of State.
“We want to make it clear that we’re not taking any position in the election,” Williams said. “But we need to have the date set so we can print and distribute the necessary number of mail ballots within the deadline windows required by law.” The Clerk and Recorder also noted that this will be the first election conducted under new laws passed by the Colorado General Assembly earlier this year and expressed concerns that the election process could be further complicated if it becomes necessary to get a court interpretation of conflicting or unclear provisions of that new legislation.
As a result of the Governor’s delay in setting a date for the recall election, the only remaining feasible election date to comply with other statutory deadlines is September 3, 2013. Clerk and Recorder Wayne W. Williams notes that is immediately following a three day weekend and Post Office holiday. If no date has been set by July 20, 2013, the El Paso County Clerk will be asking for some form of judicial relief from the strict deadlines outlined in the Uniform Election Code.
A hearing is scheduled in Denver District Court tomorrow.
Wayne Williams also sent a second press release explaining his rationale:
With the Senate District 11 Recall Election court hearing scheduled for tomorrow, El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams further outlined the arguments he’ll make in favor of setting the Recall Election date to allow voters sufficient time to participate in the election.
“By intervening in Kleinsmith v. Gessler, Hickenlooper, et al, the Clerk and Recorder’s Office is not advocating for or against the recall, nor are we weighing in on the sufficiency of the petitions,” said Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams. “However, we are in the unique position of not being able to proceed further with preparations for the Recall Election until a date is set. We look for a decision on the date from the court tomorrow to ensure that the voting rights of El Paso County citizens are protected.”
At this time, all preparations that can be done without a date have been made by the Clerk and Recorder’s Office. Per state statute, ballots must be mailed between 18-22 days before an election to give voters adequate time to receive their ballot, vote, and return it before 7:00 PM on Election Day. Before ballots can be mailed, successor candidates must have 10 days after the setting of the election date to submit their petitions and these petitions then must be verified by the Secretary of State. Ballot proofs must then be prepared and sent to the ballot printing vendor who needs two weeks for ballots to be laid out, printed, inserted, and mailed. Because of the delay in setting the election date, each additional day that passes thus further reduces the time a voter will have to vote their ballot. This is especially problematic for members of the armed forces deployed overseas, who already will have less than the normal 45 days in which to vote due to the constitutionally imposed recall timetable.
Last week, Clerk and Recorder Williams filed a motion to intervene in the hopes of obtaining the constitutionally required date for the Senate District 11 Recall Election. A hearing has been scheduled for 8:30 AM July 17, 2013 in room 209 of the Denver City and County Building located at 1437 Bannock St, Denver CO. Presiding over the hearing will be 2nd Judicial Court Chief Judge Robert S. Hyatt. The hearing will cover the protest filed by Catherine Kleinsmith and the parties’ request to set a date for the election.