Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz wanted an answer Thursday from Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler to a simple question but one heavily laced with politics: Could Ortiz send out roughly 70 mail ballots to registered county voters in the military, but who did not vote in the 2010 election? “I want an order from the secretary’s office by Friday (today) saying that I cannot send out those ballots because I believe I should under the (Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act),” Ortiz said Thursday morning.
He got his answer at closing time Thursday. Gessler’s letter to Ortiz said the secretary of state was sticking to his position that no inactive voters should get ballots sent to them this election — including out-of-area military voters, or those “covered” by the Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act.
“A covered voter who is registered to vote may apply for a ballot. Ballots are not automatically sent to covered voters,” Gessler’s letter said. “Thus, Pueblo County may only send mail ballots to inactive voters who submit a timely request as required by the (Act).” Perusing the letter Thursday night, Ortiz said Gessler had provided an order as asked.
Ortiz, however, said he wanted to discuss Gessler’s letter with his legal adviser, Pueblo County Attorney Dan Kogovsek, before making a decision on the matter that has become more controversial with the added question of how inactive military voters should be treated.
The military voter issue is the latest twist in the confrontation between Gessler and two counties — Pueblo and Denver — over their intentions to send ballots to inactive voters this year. Denver Clerk Debra Johnson intends to send out about 55,000 ballots to inactive voters in that county, including military voters.
Ortiz has 17,000 ballots ready for inactive voters among the 82,000 he expects to mail out for the November election. He’s already mailed out about 600 ballots to military voters who are considered active voters, meaning they voted in 2010. By law, military voters are supposed to get their ballots sent to them 45 days prior to an election.