This week, the town of Montezuma filed a lawsuit in Summit County District Court … against itself. Newly elected Mayor Lesley Davis said the lawsuit was filed Tuesday in hopes of bringing a resolution to its controversial municipal electionlast April. The suit was filed by interim town attorney Kendra Carberry, of Denver, on behalf of town clerk Helen Moorman and the town of Montezuma. The respondents listed in the suit include all of the town’s 61 registered voters. “The town is definitely not suing its residents,” Davis said. “We’re just seeking the court’s assistance to help us with a controversial election and to let us know what we should be doing.” According to the complaint, the town alleges that ballots from April’s election contained inaccurate verbiage and did not feature numbered stubs and duplicate stubs to be recorded in the poll books and that the final tally for at least one board of trustees candidate was inaccurate, among other claims. As town clerk and the election official, Moorman was responsible for overseeing all facets of the election.
The complaint also references a 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office investigation into alleged voter fraud. After the April election, several Montezuma residents filed petitions challenging the residency of 14 registered voters. Thirteen of those voters participated in the election. The DA found enough evidence that five of those 13 voters were not Montezuma or Summit County residents at the time of the election.
Striking those five ballots was enough to alter the results of at least one board seat, Davis said. However, the town has no recourse under Colorado election law to legally change the makeup of the board this far removed from the election.
Due to the DA’s investigation, town officials failed to contest the election within 10 days, as required under Colorado Revised Statutes, and conducted a recount, but not within the guidelines of Colorado law, the complaint states. Although Davis and six trustees were sworn into office after April 1, the mistakes that have since come to light also are calling into question whether the election was properly certified.
Filing a lawsuit is the only available option to the town in its last-ditch effort to verify its election results, Davis said. The board of trustees voted in favor of filing the lawsuit last month. The town is paying for the legal expenses, Davis said.