Colo. Supreme Court won’t hear appeal on recall mail ballots

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DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court announced late Thursday evening that it will not hear an appeal by Democrats hoping to reverse a district court decision earlier this week that will make it impossible for mail ballots to be used in recall elections against two Democratic state lawmakers next month.

The Court split 3-3 — mostly along party lines — on whether to hear the appeal, filed yesterday by Democratic attorney Mark Grueskin.

Justices Michael Bender, Nathan Coats — who was appointed by Republican Gov. Bill Owens — and Monica Marquez voted to review the ruling Monday by Judge Robert McGahey, who decided that a constitutional mandate allowing candidates to submit petitions to make the ballot up to 15 days before the election superseded a new statute requiring candidates to do so much earlier so that mail ballots can be sent to all voters.

Conservative Justices Nancy Rice, Allison Eid and Brian Boatright — who was appointed by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper — all voted not to review the decision.

Justice Gregory Hobbs, considered a liberal on the Court, did not cast a vote.

“It is ordered that by operation of law pursuant to C.A.R. 35(e), the decision of the district court in this matter is final and is not subject to further appellate review,” the ruling reads.

Had the Court opted to hear the appeal, it could have pushed back the recall elections against Sens. John Morse and Angela Giron, Democrats from Colorado Springs and Pueblo, respectively, which are now set for Sept. 10.

Now it seems all but certain that the elections will take place in person, at a much greater cost to the counties.

It’s also a setback for Morse and Giron, given that Democrats typically benefit from higher voter turnout.

The Secretary of State plans to finalize new rules Friday to help guide clerks as they prepare for unprecedented recall elections in which it could be basically impossible for absentee voters or members of the military who are overseas to participate.

“The Supreme Court has settled this issue,” Gessler said in a statement late Thursday. “Now we know for sure elections will take place on Sept. 10. We’ve already begun rolling our sleeves up to make these elections a success.

“Every eligible voter will have the opportunity to cast a ballot, including our military service members, under the plan we are putting together. Voters in El Paso and Pueblo counties can rest assured these elections will be conducted with the integrity they expect and deserve.”