The ability to circulate petitions and recall elected officials is a constitutional right. But recall elections are much more difficult than the regularly scheduled elections. They typically are more emotional and controversial. Fewer people vote in recalls so they tend to be less representative, and they are expensive for local governments. County clerks deal with recall elections periodically, more commonly for local officials such as city council members or school board directors. In Colorado last year, we held two recall elections for state legislators — the first time in the history of our state. I supervised one of those recall elections, in which 36 percent of eligible voters participated and cost Pueblo County $270,000. The participation rate would have no doubt been higher and the cost less burdensome had we been able to mail ballots to all registered voters. But a lawsuit by the Libertarian Party revealed 100-year-old constitutional language that candidates have until 15 days before the election to petition onto the ballot, not leaving enough time to print, mail and return ballots. This petition timeline is not in place for any other type of election. It is an even more burdensome timeline for small, rural counties with fewer resources.
Also troubling is the impact recall elections laws have on some voters’ ability to participate. Voters in the military or overseas in particular depend on mail ballots, in addition to the elderly and disabled. Federal law requires that military/overseas mail ballots go out 45 days prior to an election.
Colorado’s constitution is in conflict with federal law and needs to be fixed.
Colorado voters have increasingly chosen mail ballots. In 2012, almost two-thirds of voters chose to vote by mail. Beginning in 2013, registered voters automatically receive mail ballots and the choice to send them back or vote in person. We need to run all our elections as consistently and uniformly as possible to avoid voter confusion and harmonize our modern system with the old constitutional language on recalls.
Full Article: Colorado needs a recall election fix – The Denver Post.