It may sound like a simple issue, but Colorado is currently in an uproar over this issue. The City of Denver had been planning to send mail ballots to all registered voters, including inactive military voters. In response, Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler made the controversial move of filing suit against the city, arguing that Colorado law only allows localities to mail ballots to those on the active voting list. The full complaint can be found here. Because the election is mere weeks away, John Tomasic of The Colorado Independent notes that this new directive seems likely to effectively disenfranchise the effected soldiers.
Colorado law requires ballots to be sent out to all active registered voters, but it does not explicitly prohibit county clerks from being more proactive. According to The Daily Sentinel, Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner argued that counties should be able to do more if they wish. “I had made a decision early on not to include the inactive voters because it wasn’t required,” Reiner said. “But I have to agree with the Denver County clerk and recorder that the statute requirements are only a minimum, and in many areas clerks often go over and above depending on the needs of their counties.”
Gessler disagrees, arguing that the law applies only to active registered voters. In his complaint, Gessler urges the court to do three things: 1) declare that the Clerk must follow the Secretary’s orders; 2) declare that Colorado’s election laws must be applied uniformly; and 3) issue an injunction preventing the Clerk from sending ballots to any inactive voters.
Secretary Gessler’s office has commented that this move is necessary because of thousands of unreturned ballots mailed to inactive voters in 2010. Paul Gronke at Election Updates decided to peruse the public evidence and was unable to find conclusive numbers either way, but, urprisingly, it appears that mailings to active voters were the source of the large majority of unaccounted for ballots in the 2010 election.