tung by the recalls of two state senators last September, Colorado Democrats are carrying out an age-old tradition – trying to revamp laws about recall elections. Going back at least a century, practically anytime a surprising recall effort has qualified for the ballot, legislators immediately scurry to modify the law. Despite the seemingly self-serving nature of this and many other post-recall reform proposals, Colorado’s Democrats are right in pushing this one forward. If approved, it would clean up poorly drafted statutes that don’t conform to general election laws. They would remove roadblocks to citizens seeking recalls. And, learning from the 2013 snafus in Colorado, they seek to avoid expensive delays and lawsuits. The proposed Colorado changes are an attempt to conform recall law to existing election laws, some of which were passed earlier in 2013. The major focus is to make workable a judicial ruling that prevented the recall from being an all mail election by defining the constitution’s language of “date for holding the election” so that it allows candidates to petition onto the ballot until 15 days before mail ballots are sent out, instead of 15 days before the election closes.
Because the original electoral law changes were opposed by Republicans, the quest for recall reform is raising questions by Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman about whether supporters should seek changes through a voter referendum.
The Democratic reforms are, no doubt, motivated in response by last year’s recall upsets. But, as history shows, the fact that recall reform is politically motivated doesn’t mean the clunky recall process shouldn’t be fixed.
It is, perhaps, the nature of politicians that recalls – successful or not – immediately prompt attempts to change recall laws. Elected officials ignore those laws until the day some cranky constituent comes knocking on the door with a fist-full of petition signatures. Bing, the light bulb goes off – the recall laws need changing.