Democrats will appeal judge’s ruling on mail ballots in recall

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Democratic elections attorney Mark Grueskin speaks to reporters last month after his appeal challenging the validity of recall petitions was denied in district court.

DENVER — Just as the Secretary of State’s office and county clerks are scrambling to revamp an election plan for recalls on Sept. 10 that can no longer involve mail ballots, Democrats have decided to appeal Monday’s district court ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court.

The official appeal will be filed Tuesday, Mark Grueskin, the Democrats’ attorney, told FOX31 Denver.

On Monday, Grueskin tried to persuade Judge Robert McGahey to toss a lawsuit from Colorado Libertarians, who argued that the state constitution allows them to submit petition signatures to make the ballot up to 15 days from the actual election.

A new election law, passed earlier this year, gave candidates just 10 days from the recall election date being set to submit petitions, which obviously conflicted with that constitutional provision.

Despite his recognition that abiding by the constitutional statute would force county clerks to ditch an election plan centered on mail ballots and greatly increase their costs, McGahey ruled emphatically that the constitution trumps the new statute.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican who opposed the new election law, defended it in court Monday.

On Tuesday, his office said it had yet to decide whether it would appeal McGahey’s ruling.

Whatever the logistical nightmare that results, he net effect of the ruling is most concerning for Democrats, trying to help Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo survive recall efforts.

Without any mail ballots, turnout is likely to be lower, which is thought to work against Democratic candidates.

“These recall elections have become a complete farce and a breakdown in the democratic process,” said AFL-CIO President Mike Cerbo in a statement blasted out Tuesday supporting the appeal.

“The decision by Judge McGahey is irresponsible and violates the spirit of the constitution, which he purports to uphold.

“The AFL-CIO has over 10,000 union household voters in the two districts combined many of whom are accustomed, indeed expecting, to receive a ballot in the mail. This ruling directly impacts the ability for many voters, such as seniors, the disabled and shift workers, to vote. The Colorado AFL-CIO strongly supports appealing this decision to the Colorado Sureme Court.”