AP reports via the Fort Collins Coloradoan:
A Colorado district court judge has blocked Secretary of State Scott GesslerвЂ™s rules on mail ballots.
The judge in Denver ruled Monday that state law allows county clerks the authority to send ballots to inactive voters in mail-in-only elections…
Gessler sued Denver County Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson in 2011 for sending mail ballots to people who had not voted in previous elections.
The Pueblo Chieftain’s Peter Roper gets to the heart of the matter:
District Judge Brian Whitney ruled that if the counties had not sent the mail ballots, they would have been punishing and disenfranchising inactive voters simply for not having voted in the previous election.
Which was, of course, the argument made by Denver County Clerk Debra Johnson all along, resulting in GOP Secretary of State’s lawsuit in 2011 to halt to delivery of ballots to so-called “inactive-failed to vote” voters. In a mail ballot election, as most counties in the state conducted for the 2011 off-year election, the distinction between so-called “active” versus “inactive” voters threatened to create a disadvantaged class of voters, whose only offense was failing to have voted in the (as you know) GOP-wave 2010 elections. A law that had previously mandated delivery of these ballots in previous elections had lapsed, and Gessler took that opportunity to try to ratchet down mail ballot deliveries.
Gessler had his stated reasons, namely to ensure “uniformity” across the state, but as two judges have now ruled, his prescribed remedy would have the effect of making it harder for a large number of otherwise legal, registered Colorado voters to exercise their voting rights. That’s the wrong kind of “uniformity.” Gessler, put simply, sought to resolve ambiguity in the law in a way that penalized certain voters, creating an artificial barrier to the franchise with clear partisan implications–and would have reduced the number of otherwise perfectly legitimate votes cast.
And although trying to is all the rage these days, the state’s chief elections officer shouldn’t do that.