The work of Democrats in the legislature and Republicans collecting signatures in Colorado Springs and Pueblo has put a figurative ticking clock on the desk of Secretary of State Scott Gessler, the state’s chief election official. Nobody, however, is calling the tick-tock a time bomb just yet. Here’s the dilemma: Democrats passed House Bill 1303 in May, which requires that a ballot is mailed to every registered voter in each election, even the ones who haven’t voted in awhile. The law also allows residents to register all the way to Election Day. The law took effect July 1, and most assumed it would first apply to the primaries and the general election in 2014. Recall elections against state Senate President John Morse in El Paso County and Sen. Angela Giron in Pueblo mean Gessler’s staff has weeks, not months, to figure out how to make the system work without chaos for county clerks and fraud in the elections’ outcomes, a concern Gessler and his staff voiced before the bill was passed. Voters have had the option of choosing mail ballots for years — and most voters choose it — but now everyone will get a mail ballot, or choose to show up in-person at vote centers, if they wish.
Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat who could face Gessler in next year’s election, could set the date for the recall election between early August and early September. Gessler’s staff met with the Colorado Voter Access and Modernized Elections Commission and laid out a list of issues that must be worked out for the new elections law to work. Some changes might even require the intervention of the General Assembly reconvenes in January, according to Gessler’s office. Tick tock, tick tock.
Gessler’s spokesman, Rich Coolidge, said if the recall elections continue to move forward — lawyers are involved — mail ballots will go out, same day registration will be allowed and there will be vote centers for every 30,000 people in the county, even though the legislative districts make up only a fraction of the county.