DENVER (CBS4)- Colorado’s Secretary of State is suing the City and County of Denver over mail-in ballots.
Sec. of State Scott Gessler said Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson is sending ballots to thousands of voters who legally should not get them.
The lawsuit comes just three weeks before ballots are set to be mailed.
“I don’t relish this lawsuit here. I do not relish it,” said Gessler.
“I’m surprised he really went that far,” said Johnson.
Gessler is suing Johnson after she decided to send ballots to every registered voter in Denver. The problem with that, the law states ballots “shall be mailed to all active registered electors.”
Johnson planned to mail to inactive voters as well, about 55,000.
“I think that the law states you shall send to active voters is the minimum standard. You know, at least that. It doesn’t say you cannot send to inactive voters,” said Johnson.
An inactive voter is someone who didn’t vote in the last general election. When the law was passed, the legislature specifically required ballots be sent to inactive voters, too. But it also specified that the provision would sunset this year.
Terrence Carroll, who was Speaker of the House at the time the, said things have changed.
“It was a law that was drafted without any reference or any understanding of mail-in ballot elections,” said Carroll.
Gessler’s critics suggest there are racial implications because many inactive voters live in minority neighborhoods.
Gessler denies that accusation, “I’m disappointed some have played a race card.”
He insists he’s not trying to keep anyone from voting, just trying to keep the process legal.
Johnson said it should also be fair.
“So right now we have our printer on hold until we get some type of decision,” said Johnson.
Pueblo’s clerk and Recorder is also awaiting that decision. Gilbert Ortiz said he wasn’t going to challenge the Secretary of State’s authority, but he disagrees with Gessler.
Gessler said other counties are on board and his intent in enforcing the law is also to make sure elections are uniform throughout the state.
The court is expected to take up the matter by next week. There are more than 500,000 inactive voters in Colorado.
Those who do not receive a ballot in the mail can still vote in the all mail-in ballot election, but they must pick up a ballot at the Clerk and Recorder’s Office or a voting service center.