Thousands of inactive voters in two Democratic strongholds will be mailed ballots for the Nov. 1 election following a judge’s ruling Friday. Denver District Judge Brian Whitney denied a motion for a preliminary injunction filed by Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who argued that state law prevents Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson from mailing ballots to inactive voters.
Following the decision, Johnson and Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz said they will proceed with plans to mail ballots to those voters — about 54,000 in Denver and 17,000 in Pueblo.
Inactive voters are registered 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.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock called the ruling “a great victory for Denver voters.”
“As stewards of good government, our efforts should and will always be focused on encouraging all of our residents to vote, eliminating unnecessary obstacles to participation and working to increase civic engagement through the voting process,” he said.
The Republican secretary of state, meanwhile, called the decision “merely the first salvo in a long election year to come.” Gessler said he will proceed with the lawsuit, which seeks to prevent inactive voters from getting mail ballots in future elections.
Gessler has maintained that the issue is one of statewide uniformity and fairness, and not an attempt to keep voters in heavily Democratic counties from casting ballots.
While Denver and Pueblo are the only counties to indicate so far that they will mail ballots to inactive voters, the secretary of state’s office notified the state’s other county clerks Friday that they are allowed to do so as well.
Clerks need to let the state know by early next week so changes can be made to the state voter database in time for ballots to be mailed, spokesman Andrew Cole said.