Two Democratic congressmen asked the U.S. Department of Justice Tuesday to investigate whether Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler violated federal law when he asked a judge to stop the Denver clerk and recorder from mailing ballots to inactive voters. The letter from Rep. Robert Brady of Pennsylvania and Charles Gonzalez of Texas says Gessler’s actions may violate the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discriminatory voting procedures.
“Given the diversity of the state of Colorado, and particularly that of Denver County, there is a high likelihood that the barrier to voting Secretary Gessler seeks to impose . . . will have such a discriminatory result,” the letter states.
It says that not mailing ballots to eligible voters listed as “inactive” because they didn’t vote last year “might make participation particularly hard” for disabled voters who may not have been able to get to the polls and Americans who may have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan in 2010 but who want to vote Nov. 1.
A Gessler spokesman accused the congressmen of playing partisan politics and said the lawsuit against Denver was intended to ensure statewide uniformity in election procedures.
“Colorado law is clear that people need to be treated the same and protected from fraud. And a Colorado judge will decide the matter,” said spokesman Richard Coolidge.
Gessler asked a Denver judge last week to issue a preliminary injunction preventing Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson from mailing ballots to inactive voters. She has already mailed ballots to inactive military and overseas voters, and Pueblo’s clerk plans to do the same.
“Inactive” voters didn’t vote in the 2010 general election, haven’t voted in a subsequent election and have not returned postcards mailed to them that ask whether they want a ballot.
Those voters would be able to vote at the clerk’s office or a voting center.