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Gazette Premium Content El Paso County Clerk urges early recall voting to avoid lines

By Megan Schrader Updated: September 7, 2013 at 6:40 am

If residents in Senate District 11 vote early, the recall election phone calls and door knocks will likely stop, El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams suggests.

"Every party is getting the list each day of who has voted," Williams said. "The sooner they vote, the less likely they are to get phone calls."

Williams is encouraging early voting for other reasons.

"If everybody waits until the last minute, it will be challenging," he said.

More than 69,000 registered voters are in the district, and turnout is predicted to be high.

Voters are deciding whether to keep Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, in office. Morse, along with Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, are facing recall elections because of support of gun legislation passed last session.

Giron is from Senate District 3, which includes Pueblo, West Pueblo and a large swath of Pueblo County.

Republican Bernie Herpin is on the ballot in Colorado Springs as a potential replacement for Morse, and George Rivera, a Republican, is on the ballot in Pueblo.

Only those who live in Senate District 11 - central and south Colorado Springs stretching west to Manitou Springs - can vote in the election.

Election day is Tuesday, but polls will be open Saturday and Monday for early voting.

So far, 7,096 people have voted in El Paso County, including 3,253 on Friday. In Pueblo County, which opened voting centers earlier, 14,821 votes have been cast.

More Republicans are turning out in the Morse recall, with 3,048 voters followed by Democrats with 2,250 and unaffiliated voters with 1,708.

Voices of voters

"It was nonsense with the gun laws," said Jim Bishop, 66, after voting for the recall. "I just can't stand the regulation of guns. They've made it tough enough for those of us who want to protect ourselves in our homes."

Morse, who is president of the Colorado Senate, helped five gun bills get passed that banned high-capacity magazines, required background checks on gun sales, imposed a fee for those background checks, enabled a judge to remove weapons from an individual accused of violent domestic abuse and required training for concealed carry permits be done in person not online.

He also proposed holding the owners, sellers and manufacturers of military-style assault weapons liable for damages caused by those guns. That bill didn't pass the Senate after Morse withdrew it.

"I'm a gun owner, but I see no problem in registering those guns," said Charles Judy, who voted to keep Morse in office Friday. "I think it's crazy to have those big guns with multiple rounds available to nut cases."

Judy disagrees with the use of recall elections for political reasons.

The laws did not create a gun registry, but opponents of the gun laws said they were the first step toward requiring gun owners to register weapons.

Instead, the laws required individuals buying a gun from another private individual to undergo a background check looking for felonies. Colorado law required background checks for sales at gun stores and shows.

Ashlee Springer, 36, watched the sheriffs rally in support of the recall Wednesday with her infant son outside the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum.

"We care about our Second Amendment rights," Springer said. "It's our God-given right to protect ourselves."

Springer said she has tried to contact Morse but has received no response.

"He can't be trusted," she said.

Springer said she plans to vote yes for the recall.

Sue Davidson, 52, also lives downtown and voted Friday to keep Morse in office.

"I believe he did the right thing, and I think that this is nonsense," Davidson said.

She and a group of neighbors who walk their dogs every morning have talked about the issue and decided to vote to keep Morse in office - a "no" on the recall ballot.

Lee and Sharon Barnes, who live in the Villages at Sand Creek, said they are voting against Morse.

"We just totally disagree with what he's doing," said Sharon, 71, who just applied for her concealed carry permit. "If they take the guns away from law-abiding citizens, then the only ones left with guns are going to be criminals."

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