Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson may send ballots to inactive voters, District Court Judge Brian Whitney ruled this afternoon. Secretary of State Scott Gessler asked Whitney last month to issue a preliminary injunction stopping Johnson’s office from sending mail ballots to voters classified as “inactive failed to vote.”
Those voters — about 54,357 in Denver county, or about 12 percent of all registered voters — are voters who didn’t vote in the 2010 general election or any subsequent election. They also failed to respond to postcards from their clerk and recorder asking whether they want a ballot for the Nov. 1 election.
Gessler, a Republican, said he wanted to ensure the statewide uniformity of the election. Although the judge refused to issue a preliminary injunction, Gessler’s suit may continue. The Secretary of State’s attorney also said Gessler may issue a rule on the issue.
Gessler has said the case is not an attempt to keep voters in heavily Democratic Denver County from casting ballots, noting that those voters could vote at the clerk’s office or a vote center.
In his lawsuit Gessler pointed to state statute, which says clerks “shall mail to each active registered elector … a mail ballot packet.”
“The adjective ‘active’ is crucial,” Gessler’s lawsuit states. “If the General Assembly intended to allow election officials to send packets to all registered electors, it would not have used the word ‘active.'”
Gessler also said Johnson must obey a Sept. 16 order from his office not to mail to inactive voters because he is the state’s top election official, and there is a statewide measure on the ballot.