Court issues ruling on Colorado recall votes

By: The Associated Press
October 21, 2013 Updated: October 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm

DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court has reaffirmed its decision that voters do not have to first vote "yes" or "no" on recall elections to have their votes for a successor validated, a ruling that could force the state to rewrite part of its Constitution.

The Colorado high court said Monday a state constitutional requirement that voters must first vote on the recall before selecting a candidate violates rights to voting and expression under the U.S. Constitution. The court's written ruling came in response to a question from Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The election went ahead as scheduled and Democratic Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and Democratic Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo were ousted, a vote seen as a national measure of popular support for gun legislation. They were replaced by two gun-rights Republicans.

Hickenlooper said in a filing through the state attorney general that the question was important because going ahead with the election on Sept. 10 could have required a recount or even be invalidated if someone raised a legal challenge after the election.

Matthew Ferguson, an attorney for the Libertarian Party which raised the question, said some voters may object to being asked their opinion on whether to hold a recall election, but hedge their bets by voting for a candidate in case the recall election was approved.

"Some people don't want to do recalls. Our Constitution is going to have to be corrected," he said. Ferguson said there is some question on how the state Constitution can be changed and whether the ruling by the state's highest court can be challenged.

Attorney General John Suthers and Mark Grueskin, attorney for Giron, Morse and the state Democratic Party, did not have an immediate response to the ruling.

Justices Monica Marquez and Nathan Coats issued a dissenting opinion saying there was no rush to allow the election to proceed without a written opinion because there was only minimal debate and the issues raised could have been dealt with after the election.

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