After winding up testimony from Town Clerk Christian Samora and hearing closing arguments from both sides Thursday, District Judge Martin Gonzales rendered a timely decision Friday morning on the March 19 Center recall election. Gonzales based his decision strictly on the ruling handed down in the 1964 Colorado Supreme Court decision Taylor v. Pile: “If any absentee ballots are “numbered in such a manner that the vote of any person thereafter may be determined by comparison with the number on the ballot and the poll registration book is contrary to the state of Colorado’s constitutional and statutory guarantee of a secret ballot and, therefore, void ab initio [from the beginning].”
Gonzales commented in his ruling: “While this Court cannot find that any violation of the secrecy of the ballot actually occurred, this Court has a duty under Taylor v. Pile to declare the Election void ab initio, simply because under the circumstances the secrecy of the ballot could have been violated. Taylor v. Pile does not require that a contestor of an election show that anyone actually learned how an elector voted. Quite the contrary, the simple fact that votes were revealed on ballots being counted that still had their identifying stubs attached is sufficient.”
A new election must be held within 90 days.