DENVER—Colorado’s sweeping new Democrat-driven election law appears to present a host of opportunities for enthusiastic voters, and with the recall election just around the corner, Jon Caldara wants to make sure they understand that.
The Independence Institute posted last weekend a website called Bring In the Vote, which explains how the Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act may offer avenues for those eager to participate in the electoral process.
“This is a public service to anyone voting in Colorado who has lived in the state for at least 22 days that if they wish to vote in these recall elections, there’s a legal way to do so,” said Caldara, who heads the free-market think-tank. “I’m not calling on them to do so, but if you want your voice to be heard, you may do so by using this new election law sponsored by [state] Sens. Angela Giron and John Morse and signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper.”
Why “bring in the vote”?
“Since the passage of this new horrendous voter law, it’s not get-out-the-vote that counts, it’s bringing in the votes from outside your district that’s going to count,” said Caldara.
Included in the website is an explanation of how the law may open the door for so-called “gypsy voters,” those who vote outside their precinct or district, as well as an interesting take on the one-voter-one-ballot concept.
The law, also known as House Bill 1303, specifically states that an eligible voter may only vote once per election, but there are two recall elections taking place on Sept. 10: The recall of Giron in Pueblo and the Morse recall in Colorado Springs.
“The law very specifically says you can’t vote twice in the same election. The question is, is this the same election? It sure looks like two different elections: you have different ballots, different candidates,” said Caldara. “There’s no crossover at all.”
(UPDATE: Gessler spokesman Rich Coolidge said Thursday that the recalls are being treated as one election, and that voters cannot cast ballots in both. The state’s computerized voter-tracking system will pick up any duplicate voters, he said.)
The recall election comes as the first test of H.B. 1303, approved by the legislature in May. Initially the bill was written to take effect in 2014, but in April, the bill was tweaked to kick in immediately upon the governor’s signature, said Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert.
The bill passed both houses of the Democrat-controlled legislature with no votes from Republicans, who said it would foster voter fraud.
“We don’t know who changed it [the bill], but we know it was changed after the petitions were pulled for the Giron and Morse recalls,” said Staiert last week on KOA-AM’s “The Mike Rosen Show.”
As Caldara sees it, voters need only meet four requirements to cast ballots in the recall election: They must be 18 or older; they must have lived in Colorado for 22 days; they must have an address in Colorado, which could be a hotel or homeless shelter; and they must affirm that it is their intention to make the address their permanent home.
Early voting has already begun in both recalls, which raises an intriguing possibility: What if you intend to make Colorado Springs your permanent home on Monday, but then decide to make Pueblo your permanent home on Tuesday?
“If I change my mind, is that illegal?” said Caldara.
Certainly the new voting law has added to the confusion leading up to the recall. Secretary of State Scott Gessler attempted to provide more clarity with his rulemaking last month, including a rule to discourage “gypsy voters,” but a Denver District Court judge threw out the rules last month, saying they went beyond the scope of the law.
State Rep. Dan Pabon (D-Denver) said last month Gessler’s rules were unnecessary and would lead to voter suppression.
“We agree with the secretary that the law does not allow citizens to claim temporary residency for Election Day,” said Democratic state Rep. Dan Pabon in a statement. “Requiring intent to remain in the district is arbitrary, and could create ambiguity and confusion for voters and elections officials. If I were trying to explain how voter suppression works, this would be it.”
Speculation is rampant that advocates on both sides will take advantage of the fresh voting availabilities by trucking in Colorado voters from across the state to cast ballots in the recall. That may only be the beginning, says Caldara.
“I believe the winner of this election and all future Colorado elections will be the candidate who has the most buses,” said Caldara.