Gov. John Hickenlooper issued a strong warning Monday morning to anyone tempted to vote fraudulently in the recall elections underway in Pueblo and Colorado Springs.
“We are hearing disturbing reports that some people are being encouraged to go to the polls, not to legitimately vote, but to disrupt the process,” Hickenlooper said in a written statement. “That would be unlawful and makes a mockery of the democratic process.”
On Saturday, Jon Caldara, a conservative political analyst who lives in Boulder, cast a blank ballot in the El Paso County recall election of Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs.
Caldara said he was voting to prove that Colorado election laws are easily manipulated using a law that describes residency as an “intent” to make a place ones permanent residence.
Caldara used an address in Morse’s Senate District 11 saying he intends to move to Colorado Springs full time.
That’s at odds with a sworn affidavit a person must sign to change their address or register to vote attesting that the address they have provided is their sole legal residence for purposes like motor vehicle registry and taxes.
“We urge the county clerks in Pueblo and El Paso counties to make clear that people engaged in attempting to disrupt the elections are open to criminal prosecution,” Hickenlooper said.
Wayne Williams, El Paso County Clerk and Recorder, said he’s glad the governor has started paying attention to the election law.
“We’re excited to have the governor finally aware of the ramifications of the law he signed,” Williams said. “I wish he’d paid attention during the legislative session.”
Williams testified against House Bill 1303 at the state Capitol, saying the law would open the flood gates for voter fraud.
Among other things, the law enables people to register to vote through election day and to change their address. Before Colorado law required voters to register 29 days before an election.
Williams said so far 62 voters have used the new voter registration law and 60 voters have moved to Senate District 11 from outside El Paso County. Before early voting began there were roughly 69,000 voters registered in Senate District 11.
The governor said he has consulted the Attorney General to also assist in making sure the elections are fair.
Election day in the recall election is Tuesday.
Voters will decide whether to keep Morse in office or to replace him with Republican candidate Bernie Herpin.
In Pueblo County, voters in Senate District 3 will decide whether to oust Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, from office and replace her with George Rivera, a Republican.
Early voting in the elections has been going on since Thursday in Colorado Springs and for more than a full week in Pueblo.
Contact Megan Schrader