DENVER (AP) – Colorado’s legislative recalls over gun control could be in legal jeopardy over a glitch lawmakers didn’t anticipate when they rewrote state election law this year.
A Denver judge was trying to decide Monday whether to call off Sept. 10 recall elections for two Democratic senators targeted because of their support for gun control. Sens. Angela Giron of Pueblo and John Morse of Colorado Springs were awaiting word whether a timing conflict will derail their recalls.
At issue is a new state law that requires recall elections to be conducted by mail. Elections managers can’t make that happen without violating a portion of the state constitution that gives would-be replacement candidates up to 15 days before a recall election to petition their names onto ballots.
Perhaps because Colorado has never seen a state legislator recalled since the recall was adopted in 1912, the conflict wasn’t noticed earlier this year by lawmakers who approved the mail-in voting procedure. El Paso County has already mailed more than 600 ballots to military and overseas voters.
The state Libertarian Party brought the conflict to light by suing when one of its candidates was kept off ballots in the Morse race for missing a deadline. Libertarians testified Monday that they didn’t have time to meet a schedule set by the secretary of state’s office.
Denver District Judge Robert McGahey was expected to rule on the question Monday afternoon. Facing a courtroom packed with elections lawyers representing major and minor parties, McGahey tried to downplay the high stakes of his decision.
“I don’t want to go down side roads and rabbit holes about politics,” he told the lawyers.
However, political considerations weren’t far from the courtroom. The recalls have garnered national media attention and the eye of Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who wrote a blog post Monday decrying the Colorado recalls as “a blatant attack on our Democratic principles.”
“Never have I seen an election like the one that’s happening in Colorado right now,” she wrote.
Gun-rights activists have called the recalls an important gauge of voter opinions on gun policy in battleground states.
- By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer
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