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Vets call on Gessler to allow mailed ballots

By Charles Ashby

A Colorado veterans group plans to call on Secretary of State Scott Gessler to reverse his stance on whether overseas military personnel whose voter registrations have reverted to inactive status should get mailed ballots this year.

Thursday, Denver Afghan war veteran will turn over a petition to Gessler with about 5,000 names, saying his lawsuit that inactive voters shouldn't receive mail ballot would disenfranchise military personnel serving overseas who want to vote in the Nov. 1 elections.

Richard Allen Smith, vice chairman of the veterans group, VoteVets.org, said Gessler's stance is contrary to what county clerks believe.

Last week, a district court judge agreed with the clerks, saying there is nothing in state law that prevents ballots from being mailed to inactive voters, as some county clerks have done.

"The District Court made the correct decision ... and all county clerks should follow the lead of Denver and Pueblo by sending election ballots to all military members who are registered to vote," Smith said in a press statement. "This is a matter of our very democracy, which our men and women in uniform fight to protect. The clerks' job is to ensure that voters have every chance to vote in an election, including members of our military. If they choose to not send ballots to all voters, they undermine that duty, and our democracy. Secretary of State Gessler should drop this case immediately, and free all clerks to send ballots to members of our military, and all voters.”

Voters' registrations automatically become inactive if they fail to cast a ballot in one even-year election, and clerks have said that military voters, particularly those stationed overseas, often don't vote in off-presidential years. Additionally, military personnel move around often and don't receive postcards reminding them to activate their voter status, the clerks say.

VoteVets.org represents more than 100,000 veterans, military members, their families and civilian supporters. Last week it launched a petition calling on Gessler to drop his case. More than 5,000 people have signed it.

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