The Denver clerk and recorder said today she plans to send ballots to inactive voters for the Nov. 1 election despite a threat from the secretary of state to take her to court. The flap pits the state’s most powerful Democratic county against Colorado’s new Republican secretary of state, Scott Gessler.
“The City and County of Denver has consistently provided all eligible voters with ease of access to the voting franchise and we plan to continue to do so,” clerk Debra Johnson said today in a statement.
Gessler’s office said the law limits the mailings to active voters only. “It’s clear under state law that counties can only mail to active registered voters,” spokesman Rich Coolidge said. Coolidge cited the law’s language that says, “the designated election official shall mail to each active registered elector” to support Gessler’s threat.
But Denver disagrees with Gessler’s interpretation, as does the Pueblo County clerk and recorder and Colorado Common Cause. In a letter to Johnson, Judd Choate, Gessler’s elections director, warned if Denver “disobeyed this order,” a complaint would be filed in Denver District Court on Tuesday.
At issue are voters labeled “inactive/failed to vote” because they skipped the 2010 election and did not respond to postcards from their county clerks asking them to activate their registrations.
Denver has 236,410 active voters and 55,023 voters in the “inactive/failed to vote” category.