1st vote after election reform went smoothly, Reiner says

People may disagree with the results, but Tuesday’s recall elections in Pueblo and Colorado Springs were a big success, at least as they relate to new election laws, Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner said.

Reiner, along with other clerks from other parts of the state, was in the two towns observing the election process and helping the local clerks however they could.

Their point in doing so had nothing to do with whether Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, or Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, should win or lose their recalls, but to ensure the election went as it’s supposed to.

Reiner and the Colorado County Clerks Association, of which she is president-elect, have a vested interest in that, particularly after having battled Secretary of State Scott Gessler and several Republicans in the Legislature over a new elections reform law that went into effect this summer.

Tuesday’s recall elections were the first time those new reforms were used.

“The election judges seemed confident in their processes, they seemed well-trained and voters were moving through smoothly,” Reiner said. “There is really nothing to report that was out of the ordinary.”

One of the main arguments against the new reforms was the law that allows for same-day voter registration.

Opponents of the reforms said that would open the door for “illegals” to try to vote. But in the case of this highly watched election, those “illegals” meant Coloradans who live outside of the two Senate districts where the recalls were taking place.

But Reiner said that, at least in Pueblo where she focused all of her time, fewer than 50 people registered to vote on Tuesday, and all took place with no difficulty. “It wasn’t a significant number of people who needed that last-minute registration provision,” she said. “That was nice to see.”

The two lawmakers were facing recall elections primarily over their support for gun bills approved by the Colorado Legislature earlier this year, including a measure to require background checks on all gun purchases and a ban on magazines with more than 15 rounds.

The elections Tuesday marked the first time in the state’s history state legislators were subjected to recall votes.

Reiner said she was most shocked not with the elections themselves, but with the misinformation about why there were no mail ballots in the two recalls, as called for under the elections reforms.

She said that’s not because of the new law, but a very old one, and one that only applies in recall elections. Last month, a Denver judge barred the use of mail ballots because of that law, which allows “successor” candidates who would replace recalled officials 15 days before an election to get on the ballot. Normally, federal election laws require ballots to be sent to out-of-town voters, particularly those in the military, at least 45 days before Election Day.

“Having to hold the ballot content open for so long really tied the county’s hands from being able to conduct the election like they would normally conduct it,” she said. “That won’t be an issue in a normal election.”


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