DENVER — A Boulder County judge quickly dismissed a legal challenge by Colorado Republicans, who filed a lawsuit Monday against Clerk Hillary Hall for allegedly violating the law by not allowing GOP election watchers enough time to challenge voter signatures as state law allows them to do.
The dismissal from District Judge Patrick Butler means that the suit will not be heard and ballot counting in the county, a key Democratic stronghold, can continue uninterrupted.
The lawsuit came just one day before the end of an election in which Colorado’s U.S. Senate race could affect the balance of power in Washington, DC.
The lawsuit alleged that Hall is denying “watchers access to the necessary information to determine whether mail signatures that have already been called into question are in fact valid signatures.”
The lawsuit also alleges that signature verification is taking place too quickly.
According to the lawsuit, Hall is “refusing to allow watchers sufficient time and access to take even the most basic of steps to determine whether a signature should be verified or to lodge a challenge as is their right.”
Hall believes state law doesn’t afford poll watchers the right to question voter signatures and that the suit is just a partisan attempt to suppress turnout.
“This is partisan politics, people who don’t like mail ballots trying to discredit them,” Hall told FOX31 Denver Monday afternoon. “The law provides that election judges verify voter signatures, not poll watchers. If they want the right to verify signatures, they should go ask the state legislature.”
Republicans interpreted the law differently.
“Coloradans deserve to have our elections conducted in a lawful and fully transparent way,” said Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call in a statement Monday afternoon. “Clerk Hall’s refusal to allow Republican watchers to observe the signature verification process is not only illegal, but it may undermine confidence that our election is being conducted with integrity.”
Following Butler’s dismissal, Call released another statement.
“The Republican Party continues to believe that Coloradans deserve to have our elections conducted in a lawful and fully transparent way,” he said. “We are profoundly disappointed that we are being denied our day in court, and even more disappointed with Clerk Hall’s ongoing refusal to allow Republican watchers meaningful access to observe signature verification and monitor the receipt and processing of military and overseas ballots.
“While it is not possible to seek an appeal in the time remaining before Election Day, it is our hope that in the future the Colorado Secretary of State or the legislature can better enforce the rules to ensure the access necessary so poll watchers can fulfill their important role in monitoring elections. Our Party is absolutely committed to the integrity of our elections, and will continue to work to ensure that every legal vote is fairly and accurately counted.”
Boulder County has been processing early voting returns at a slower pace than some other counties, which gives Democrats some optimism that the persistent 8 percent Republican advantage in the 1.4 million ballots already returned will narrow at the end of the race as left-leaning Boulder County reports its numbers.
It’s unclear how quickly the lawsuit can be processed and whether its filing will have the more immediate impact of slowing down the processing and counting of ballots in Boulder County.
“The voter suppression coming from the Colorado Republican Party has now slowed the counting of ballots in Boulder County,” said House Majority Leader Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder. “This naked attempt by Republicans to stop eligible electors from voting must be stopped immediately.”