Election leaders worry as new candidates sue to get on recall ballot

Lindsay Watts, Weekend GMC Anchor/Target 13 Investigator , l.watts@krdo.com
POSTED: 05:43 PM MDT Aug 09, 2013    UPDATED: 05:37 AM MDT Aug 10, 2013 

A lawsuit by the Libertarian Party is shaking up the recall election of state Sens. John Morse and Angela Giron.

Two more candidates want on the ballot, leaving election leaders worried about the potential for thousands of dollars in additional costs and new challenges holding a fair election.

Gordon Butt, a Libertarian who wants to challenge Morse, and Richard Angland, a Democrat who wants to run against Giron, are named in the suit against Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

"We did not wait until the last minute," said Jeff Orrok, chair of the Colorado Libertarian Party. "We have been trying to get a candidate since we learned that the recall had been certified and was going to be on the ballot.  Gordon was not the first person we approached, but due to various circumstances, we felt he would be our best candidate."

At issue is a discrepancy between state law, which says potential candidates have 10 days after an election date is set to petition to be on the ballot, and the Colorado Constitution, which allows 15 days before the actual election.

In both Pueblo and El Paso counties, ballots have already been prepared and mailed to military personnel.

"The largest worry I have is disenfranchising voters," said Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Bo Ortiz. "I feel like this is challenging the way we run elections in Colorado and could scuttle the whole recall-election process."

Ortiz estimated that new candidates on the ballot could cost Pueblo County an additional $200,000.

In El Paso County, Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams said he was still unclear of the potential extra cost, but it could be tens of thousands. He and Ortiz agreed that new candidates on the ballot would change the Sept. 10 mail-in election to one at polling places.

"We would have to revamp the entire way the election is conducted," said Williams. "So it's not a question of just re-printing a few ballots."

KRDO asked Butt about the additional expenses that will come with getting his name on the ballot.

"I can definitely see how it could anger some voters," said Butt said. "But at the same time, more and more legislation going through from someone that has been recalled and the voters don't have confidence in anymore could cost the taxpayer dollars more."

Butt said the Libertarian Party only asked to him to run last week. While he's confident he wants Morse's seat, he was confused on the senator's last name, calling him, "Morsi" throughout the interview.

When corrected he said, "Sorry. I keep saying Morsi. I had a friend when I was a kid, his name was spelled the same way."

The Libertarian chair told KRDO that Richard Angland wasn't ready to talk yet.

Pueblo United For Angela Giron issued this statement:

"If this lawsuit is successful it will double the price tag of this costly recall. It will create confusion and possibly disenfranchise military and overseas voters. This is just another reason to vote no on the recall. We cannot allow this to become the norm in Pueblo."

A spokeswoman for A Whole Lot of People For John Morse shared a similar viewpoint, calling the lawsuit "a mess."

A Denver judge will hear the lawsuit on Monday.