DENVER | Calling Colorado election law “dusty” and confusing, Democrats announced a plan Monday to update regulations for recall elections.
Democrats called the plan nonpartisan, a straightforward effort to address conflicting, confusing language in state elections code.
Republicans didn’t bite, immediately deriding the proposal as an effort to circumvent constitutional requirements for recalling elected officials.
Colorado’s recall language came into focus last year, when two Democratic state senators were recalled over support for gun-control measures including expanded background checks.
Those September elections were complicated by some constitutional recall guidelines that appeared to conflict with other elections laws.
For example, the state constitution says recall candidates have until 15 days before an election to get onto ballots. That conflicts with other state elections laws and can make it impossible to mail ballots to all eligible voters.
The measure would also align conflicting deadlines for the governor to set a recall election after petition signatures have been turned in.
The sponsor of the overhaul, Democratic Sen. Pat Steadman, said the recall elections standards contain “old, dusty language” that “don’t facilitate the constitutional right of recall.”
He mentioned last-minute legal challenges to the September recalls, in which then-Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo were recalled.
“What we saw last year was not exactly a shining example of how to run an election,” Steadman said.
Republicans dismissed the effort, saying that much of the recall law is governed by the state constitution and can’t be changed.
“The constitution is clear — the people of Colorado must vote on any changes in this area,” Senate Republican Leader Bill Cadman said in a statement.
Morse and Giron were replaced by Republicans. A third Democrat, former Sen. Evie Hudak, resigned amid an attempt to seek a recall election. She was replaced by a Democrat.
The off-session switches left Democrats with a precarious one-seat majority in the Senate.
Senate Bill 158: https://bit.ly/1iWtpre