Recall election suspicions explained

El Paso County says many election rules misunderstood

POSTED: 11:31 PM MDT Sep 07, 2013    UPDATED: 01:36 AM MDT Sep 08, 2013 
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

KRDO NewsChannel 13 investigates questions voters have about campaign tactics they've seen during the recall election.

A common question involves posting and removing campaign signs.  A group called Revealing Politics posted a video clip on YouTube showing two men taking down signs outside the voting center at Centennial Hall, and next door at the Pikes Peak Center. 

Both facilities are owned by El Paso County.

Wayne Williams, the county's clerk and recorder, said signs are banned within 100 feet of a polling center and the signs appeared to be beyond that area.  He said the signs likely were removed by county employees because they have the authority to remove signs left unattended on county property.

However, Williams said, there are limits to what a private citizen can do.

"If someone has put a sign in front of your property, you have the right to remove it," he said.  "But you don't have the right to remove the sign in front of your neighbor's property, and you don't have the right to remove a sign that's in a public right-of-way."

Williams said the county didn't focus as much on educating voters about campaign signs as it does during a normal election because it prioritized informing people about the special recall election.

Revealing Politics posted another clip that included county Commissioner Peggy Littleton.  She expressed concern that two college students each turned in 10 completed ballots -- some of which presumably were from classmates -- even though the law allows someone to return a maximum of 10 ballots.

"I'm used to seeing that more often in a regular election when you have more mail-in ballots and more people returning ballots for relatives and friends," said Littleton.  "But this was a recall election with very few mail-in ballots and very few ballots you could request in advance under special circumstances.  How did these kids get so many ballots?  It's just rather unusual and fishy."

The county allows local voters who are unable to cast ballots in person -- because of illness, for example -- to request a ballot in advance that can be dropped off before the end of the recall election.  Around 14,000 mail-in ballots were sent to voters who live in District 11 but are out of the state or country -- such as military personnel -- and unable to vote in person.

Williams said outside drop-off boxes for ballots are monitored by surveillance cameras and each ballot signature will be verified during counting.  He said that eliminates virtually any problems that may arise.

"If there is a problem, we send the voter a letter and give the voter eight days to fix that issue," Williams said.

The recall election will determine whether state Senators John Morse of Pueblo and Angela Giron of Pueblo will remain in office.  Criticism on their support of gun control laws fueled the recall effort.

Giron's campaign manager, Jennie Peek-Dunstone, said she's worried about a phone ad from the National Rifle Association telling voters that mail-in ballots aren't accepted in the election.

"It is unfortunate that the recall supporters are spreading misinformation not only about Angela's record but about how to vote," she said in a statement released Saturday.