Thursday, August 29, 2013

Recall sees more rule changes, including a chance to get a mail ballot

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 5:50 PM

click to enlarge Secretary of State Scott Gessler
  • Secretary of State Scott Gessler
Denver District Court Judge Robert McGahey has made further changes to the election rules governing the recall, saying that Secretary of State Scott Gessler overstepped in some of the rules he created for the election.

Gessler wrote the rules after another judge said the state Constitution required candidates be able to petition onto the ballot until 15 days before the election. The decision threw the election into chaos and nullified most of the state’s election laws, which were based on a looser timetable.

Be that as it may, McGahey said Gessler still had to follow some of the state’s election laws when writing rules for the recall. The current changes meant that the El Paso and Pueblo County clerks must make even more changes to the recall process, less than two weeks before the election is to take place.

Ryan Parsell, spokesperson for the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, said this represented the sixth significant change to the rules since the beginning of the year, and the fourth since August 16.

Among the repealed rules:

• A detailed residency requirement that went so far as to require college students and military members to affirm that they planned to stay in district after they ended their service or schooling. Current law simply dictates that a person must have their current primary address within the district bounds.
• A rule that restricted mail ballots to overseas, out-of-state, disabled and emergency voters. Under the new ruling, any eligible voter may receive a mail ballot for the recall, provided a request is received by the county clerk’s office by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, September 3. The ballot must be received by the clerk’s office by 7 p.m. on September 10, unless the voter is a member of the military or living overseas who is protected by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. Those voters must mail their ballots by Sept. 10, but the clerk’s office will accept them by mail until eight days after the election.
• A rule that allowed the widespread use of electronic ballots. In most cases, a mail ballot must be picked up at a clerk’s office, or sent by mail.
• A rule that allowed emergency ballots to be hand-delivered.

Further clarifications are expected soon. Though the changes mean anyone can receive a mail ballot, Parsell said he urged residents to vote at the polls.

“We can’t absorb it if 30,000 people from Senate District 11 want to get a mail ballot,” he said.

Parsell also urged absentee voters to either request a mail ballot or pick one up at one of the clerk’s offices during business hours. The offices are closed Monday for Labor Day. 

From El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams:

New Absentee Ballot Processed Announced

[Colorado Springs, Colo. – Aug 29, 2013] Earlier today, Judge Robert McGahey ruled on the Pueblo Clerk and Recorder’s challenge to the Secretary of State’s rules governing the Senate Recall Elections. Judge McGahey’s ruling necessitated further changes to election plans that will affect any voter seeking to use the Excuse Absentee Ballot or the Emergency Mail Ballot applications previously on the Clerk and Recorder website to vote in the Senate District 11 Recall Election.

Effective immediately, any voter that has not completed either the Excuse Absentee Ballot or the Emergency Mail Ballot applications will need to complete a revised application which is available at Voters wishing to complete an application for an absentee ballot to be delivered by mail will need to have their application returned to the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office by 11:59 PM on Tuesday, September 3. Any other requests for an absentee ballot can be made in person only at the Citizens Service Center by 5:00 PM on Friday, September 6.

Based on the new rules, voters who request an absentee ballot will either be mailed the ballot (if the request is submitted by September 3) or must personally pick up the ballot (through September 6). The ballot also must now be returned to the Clerk and Recorder’s Office (or any Voter Service and Polling Center location) by 7:00 PM on Tuesday, September 10 to be counted. Both of these changes now strictly follow state statute rather than the previous rules which afforded voters greater flexibility to receive and return their ballots with the Recall Election’s condensed timeframe.

The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office fully recognizes and regrets the burden and confusion that these additional changes place on the citizens of Senate District 11. Starting with the passage of House Bill 13-1303 earlier this year, this most recent change constitutes the 6th significant change to the Recall Election process thrust upon the citizens of Senate District 11 and election administrators alike.

“We are working hard to adjust to these changes and make this election work,” stated Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams. “For the sake of the citizens of Senate District 11, I hope this is the last of the changes made to this election.”


Based on Pueblo County’s challenge to the Rules issued by the Secretary of State, earlier today the District Judge ruled that the SOS Rules cannot contradict the portions of Colorado election law that are not unconstitutional Therefore, several changes important to voters are occurring:

1. All residents may request a ballot be mailed to them. BUT
a. If the request is not received by the Clerk & Recorder by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, September 3, the ballot cannot be mailed.
b. The ballot cannot be electronically transmitted from our office to the individual, but instead must be mailed (for requests received by September 3) or picked up by the voter at our main office by Friday, September 6.
c. The ballot must be returned to the Clerk & Recorder by 7 p.m. on September 10. Colorado law provides the eight-day return extension (with mailing by 9/10) only to UOCAVA voters.
d. For voters who submit the prior form by the September 3rd deadline will be mailed the ballot as provided above.
e. We are contacting the 53 voters who previously were sent excuse-based ballots electronically and we are mailing them a ballot.
2. New forms for emergency (for which electronic transmission but not hand-delivery is permitted) and for mail-in ballot will be placed on our website as soon as we have them. The SOS anticipates this will be by the end of the day to day.
3. Several other minor changes were made.

Rule Changes: 

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