July 18, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: Ballot Initiative Contains Only One Subject but Title Misleading

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In re Title, Ballot Title, and Submission Clause for 2015-2016 #73: Hayes v. Spalding on Monday, April 25, 2016.

Single Subject—Clear Title.

The Supreme Court concluded that Initiative #73 contains one subject, namely, the manner in which recall elections are triggered and conducted. The Court further concluded that the title set by the Title Board does not satisfy the clear title requirement because (1) it does not alert voters to central elements of the initiative; (2) it is misleading as to other elements; and (3) as all parties agree, it unnecessarily recites existing law. Accordingly, the Court reversed the action of the Title Board in setting the title for Initiative #73 and returned the measure to the Board for the purpose of fixing a new title that satisfies the clear title requirement.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

SB 14-158: Revising Certain Statutes Governing the Conduct of Recall Elections

On March 17, 2014, Sen. Pat Steadman introduced SB 14-158 – Concerning the Harmonization of Statutory Recall Election Provisions with the Recall Rrovisions in the State Constitution to Reflect the Manner in which Contemporary Elections are Conducted, and, in Connection Therewith, Aligning Circulator Regulation and Petition Requirements with Initiative and Referendum Circulator and Petition Requirements. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

The bill makes various changes to the laws governing conduct of recall elections (recall laws). The bill contains a nonstatutory legislative declaration. The bill defines terms used in statutory and constitutional recall election provisions. The bill prohibits a designated election official from suspending or avoiding the requirement that recall elections be conducted by mail ballot.

The bill:

  • Harmonizes the affidavit contents that recall petition circulators must execute with the affidavits that ballot initiative or petition circulators must execute;
  • Clarifies when the designated election official must certify a recall question to the ballot and call the election; and
  • Reorganizes for chronological clarity the provision setting forth the opportunity to resubmit signed petitions or circulator affidavits.

The bill applies the laws pertaining to initiative and referendum petitions and circulators to recall elections.

The bill conforms to the state constitution the statutory time within which a recall election date must be set by a designated election official and extends the election date in the case of protest and adjudication.

The bill:

  • Requires a designated election official to develop and submit to the secretary of state a mail ballot plan for a recall election;
  • Specifies the times during which the office of the designated election official functions as a voter service and polling center and mail ballots must be sent; and
  • Sets forth the number of voter service and polling centers required for each recall election.

The bill harmonizes with the state constitution the deadline by which a successor candidate must file his or her nomination petition and specifies the times within which such petitions must be verified and the recall election ballot certified.

The bill eliminates the statutory “prior participation requirement”, i.e. the condition that an elector cast a vote on the question of recall in order to have his or her vote for a successor candidate counted.

The bill:

  • Allows an elector who is registered in the political subdivision of a recalled elected official to file a protest alleging that a winning successor candidate is not qualified to assume the recalled officer’s office; and
  • Requires a vacancy election if the court finds that the successor candidate is not qualified.

The bill specifies that, in case of conflict between the recall laws and other provisions of the “Uniform Election Code of 1992”, the former controls.

The bill removes an obsolete reference to recall elections that appears under provisions governing petitions for candidacy in other types of elections. Previously, the statutes governing petitions for recall and petitions for candidacy were combined under a single statutory part. House Bill 95-1241 bifurcated the petition laws but neglected to amend this particular provision.

The bill applies the laws regarding recall of elected municipal officers to the recall of local government officers.

The bill makes conforming amendments.

The bill is assigned to the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee.

Since this summary, the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee amended the bill and referred it to the Senate Committee of the Whole for 2nd Reading.

Colorado Supreme Court: Recall Election Results to be Reinstated; Historical Overview of Election Law Provided

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In re Jones v. Samora on Monday, January 27, 2014.

Recall Election—CRS § 31-10-1307—Ballot Secrecy—Colo. Const. art. VII, § 8—Taylor v. Pile—District Court Error in Voiding Election.

The Supreme Court held that the district court erred as a matter of law in setting aside the results of a recall election in the Town of Center and ordering a new recall election. The district court interpreted Taylor v. Pile, 39 P.2d 670 (Colo. 1964), as placing a duty on it to void an election in which there was potential for a violation of the ballot secrecy provisions of Colo. Const. art. VII, § 8. The Court determined that the prohibition on “marked ballots” contained in § 8 was not intended to govern the use of detachable numbered stubs on paper ballots; rather, the use of detachable stubs is governed by statutory procedures. Although the election officials did not follow the proper procedures when counting the absentee ballots, their actions did not call into question the fundamental integrity or secrecy of the entire election. Taylor suggests that an election may be voided in a case where the election was conducted without a secret ballot; however, based on its factual findings in this case, the district court erred in declaring this recall election void. Accordingly, the district court’s judgment was reversed.

Summary and full case available here.

Colorado Supreme Court: Requirement That Voters in Recall Election Must Have Voted in Original Election Unconstitutional

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In re Interrogatory Propounded by Governor Hickenlooper on Monday, October 21, 2013.

Original Jurisdiction—Colo. Const. Art. VI, § 3—Prior Participation Requirement—Colo. Const. Art. XXI, § 3.

The Supreme Court held that the important constitutional issue raised by the Governor’s Interrogatory constitutes a solemn occasion requiring the Court to exercise its original jurisdiction under Article VI, § 3 of the Colorado Constitution. The Court further held that the prior participation requirement in Article XXI, § 3 of the Colorado Constitution conflicts with the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, the Court answered the Governor’s Interrogatory in the negative.

Summary and full case available here.