Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert Ortiz is pained by the idea that his office would fail to send an election ballot to even one county soldier serving in the US Military overseas. He sent a letter Tuesday to Secretary of State Scott Gessler seeking an express prohibition “in writing ” on sending ballots to soldiers overseas who are legally registered but inactive voters.
“I want it on the record because this goes against everything I want to do as clerk,” he told the Colorado Independent. “When in doubt, you send a ballot. I think of those soldiers not being able to vote. They’re on the battlefield. This is not a comfortable place to be.”
Pueblo County, with its forts and training installations, has a high percentage of citizens who are members of the military. Ortiz said he plans on Friday to send ballots to all registered-voter service members– whether active voters or inactive voters– unless directed not to by Gessler in writing. Denver County has already mailed its ballots to both active and inactive military voters. In many cases, the ballots have to travel to far flung combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, for example, and then be mailed back fast to be counted in the November 1 election. Ortiz said he feels the clock ticking. Inactive voters are legal voters who have, for whatever reason, failed to cast ballots in the previous election.
Secretary of State Gessler has argued that current state statutes direct clerks to mail ballots only to active voters. He said mailing out any additional ballots would violate the law. He explained that he wants to make the rules uniform across counties on whether or not clerks mail ballots to inactive voters. He said he was concerned to guard against possible registration fraud.