Voting is supposed be a right and a privilege. But in the pint-sized, high-mountain town of Montezuma it also has become grounds for a lawsuit. The town and its novice clerk have filed suit against every registered voter in the town, claiming that an election held last spring had numerous errors. The lawsuit filed in Summit County District Court last week lists errors that include numbers that don’t add up and mismatched ballots that had to be patched together with the clerk’s sewing machine. The lawsuit asks a judge to command all 61 registered voters in Montezuma to appear in court so the judge can sort out an election mess that the petition calls “fatally flawed.” “I have never heard of anything like this,” said Andrew Cole, a spokesman for the Colorado secretary of state’s office. “This is certainly an unusual step to take.”
Several residents have retained a Gunnison attorney to challenge the lawsuit. Luke Danielson filed a motion Tuesday claiming the court has no jurisdiction because the town’s residents haven’t been served with notices to appear in court. The matter of a town suing its voters began with a highly controversial election for mayor and town board. It was held April Fools’ Day.
In a town of 65 residents where a draw for a short straw used to decide who had to serve as mayor, an unprecedented dozen candidates ran for office. The hot-button issue that led to this kind of participation involved second-home owners. New Montezuma Mayor Lesley Davis, who was elected by a three-vote margin, claimed that 13 of the voters and at least two of the candidates were not really residents of the town.
… “Now I’m paying someone to sue me,” Montezuma voter Chris Baker said. “It’s fairly disturbing that the town is using our tax money to sue us.”