Suppressing Military Votes, Too?

A potentially new angle on the story of Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s attempts to prevent the delivery of mail ballots to inactive voters–the Colorado Independent’s John Tomasic:

Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert Ortiz is pained by the idea that his office would fail to send an election ballot to even one county soldier serving in the US Military overseas. He sent a letter Tuesday to Secretary of State Scott Gessler seeking an express prohibition “in writing ” on sending ballots to soldiers overseas who are legally registered but inactive voters.

“I want it on the record because this goes against everything I want to do as clerk,” he told the Colorado Independent. “When in doubt, you send a ballot. I think of those soldiers not being able to vote. They’re on the battlefield. This is not a comfortable place to be.”

Pueblo County, with its forts and training installations, has a high percentage of citizens who are members of the military. Ortiz said he plans on Friday to send ballots to all registered-voter service members- whether active voters or inactive voters- unless directed not to by Gessler in writing. Denver County has already mailed its ballots to both active and inactive military voters. In many cases, the ballots have to travel to far flung combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, for example, and then be mailed back fast to be counted in the November 1 election. Ortiz said he feels the clock ticking…

Ortiz consulted County Attorney Dan Kogovsek on the matter and Kogovsek said that Gessler’s interpretation of election law is just plain wrong, that it would force Pueblo County to violate federal law concerning mailing ballots to service members. [Pols emphasis] Kogovsek referred Ortiz to the Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act, which obligates county clerks to send ballots to all “covered voters,” which the act clearly defines as all eligible voters in the military; that is, not only “active” registered voters but “inactive” voters as well.

“After consulting with legal counsel, I respectfully submit that your office’s legal interpretation of governing law is incorrect,” Ortiz wrote to Gessler. “Under the State Act, I am legally required to mail ballots to uniformed service members who are eligible to vote, whether or not they are inactive.”

Here’s the full letter from Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert Ortiz to Gessler. We’ve talked a couple of times now about the opinion of a number of voting rights activists, evidenced by the temporary legislation passed in 2008 mandating mail ballots be delivered to all registered voters for the 2010 cycle, that the unequal classes of Colorado voters created by the “inactive–failed to vote” status in an all mail ballot election could be an unworkable violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Well folks, federal law also says soldiers get ballots. Is Gessler going to tell them they don’t?

8 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JeffcoBlue says:

    That’s two things Gessler forgot about. Messing with the troops is Un-American, isn’t it?

  2. ProgressiveCowgirl says:

    Someone needs to get him to weigh in now. Military AND former SOS. Jason, start calling!

  3. The realist says:

    AM760 this afternoon.  Gessler is really digging his hole deeper.  Does he just not get how bad this looks?

  4. gaf says:

    To carry out his political agenda, Gessler will have to actively take full responsibility for denying ballots to troops.

  5. ClubTwitty says:

    Yes, he means our fighting men and women too, deployed overseas in harms’ way.

    He got his answer at closing time Thursday. Gessler’s letter to Ortiz said the secretary of state was sticking to his position that no inactive voters should get ballots sent to them this election – including out-of-area military voters, or those “covered” by the Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act.

     “A covered voter who is registered to vote may apply for a ballot. Ballots are not automatically sent to covered voters,” Gessler’s letter said. “Thus, Pueblo County may only send mail ballots to inactive voters who submit a timely request as required by the (Act).”

    Where are the Patriots and troop-supporters today?  Mr. Coffman?  Mr. Lamborn?  Mr. Tipton?  Mr. Gardner??  Anyone?

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