DENVER – In a powerful message to lawmakers, voters in Colorado have recalled a pair of Democratic senators who helped push through a series of gun measures President Barack Obama had hoped to use as model legislation.
State Sen. John Morse gave his concession speech after he was trailing by four percentage points with 83 percent of the precincts reporting in.
Morse, along with Sen. Angela Giron, were targeted for recall following several party-line votes over a series of gun-control bills that were among the strictest in the nation.
When it became evident a recall of some Democratic lawmakers was a distinct possibility, the Democrats, who control both chambers in the state legislature, quickly changed an election-reform bill to allow Colorado residents from outside the district to vote in the recall and other elections simply by providing an address and stating they were intending to move into the district.
In Pueblo, it now appears that Giron will also be recalled. Early results showed her winning 58 to 42 percent; however with over half of the ballots counted, 57 percent are in favor of recalling Giron. The numbers are especially significant as Democrats in Giron’s district represent 43 percent of the registered voters compared to 23 percent for the Republican Party.
The election has seen its share of irregularities. Victor Head, who helped organize the recall, said he observed one instance where a person came in with a yellow voter card that was mailed out to every registered voter in the district.
Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s office issued a rule saying the cards in and of themselves were not a sufficient form of identification; however, his office was overruled by Denver District Judge Robert McGahey.
The judge ruled the cards are a valid form of voter ID, saying, “With all due respect, this has got to be more valid than a bill from Public Service Co., a copy of a bank statement, a paycheck. This is a government-issued document based on information contained in the secretary of state’s own database.”
However, Head observed an incident that made it clear why Gessler attempted to require a form of ID besides the card.
“The election judge asked him what his birthdate was and it didn’t match what was on the card,” Head said. “It quickly became obvious that he was not that voter. While they caught this person, in many instances the election judges never questioned the cardholder.”
He went on to say Pueblo has also had incidents with election judges who were taking people’s ballots and feeding them into the machine without using the secrecy sleeve, enabling them to see how the individual voted.
“We would point this out to the election supervisor at the polling place and he told us it wasn’t a problem, and we told him yes it was. We then had to call the Secretary of State’s office and they would send someone down to show them how to use the secrecy sleeve. Then after a couple of days they would begin to look at the ballots again and we had to go through the same thing all over again. This is how it has been this whole election.”
Throughout the recall process, Democratic supporters of Morse and Giron attempted to thwart it at every step.
After petition gatherers turned their signatures into Gessler’s office, petition signers found themselves the subject of a series of intimidating tactics attempting to get them to recant their signatures for recalling Giron and Morse.
“People who signed the petition received a phone call from a live person asking them if they wanted to remove their signatures from the petition,” Head explained. “This was followed up by two different mailers which contained a postcard that people could send back asking for the removal of their signatures from the petition and then after that they sent people to go door-to-door to visit the people who signed the petition.”
Head said the pressure by Giron supporters was approaching harassment.
“I had one woman who told me she had nine missed phone calls from Pueblo United For Angela while another woman said she had four phone calls and two door knocks in a single day,” he said. “While they are not technically breaking any laws, the constant follow-ups is almost borderline harassment.”
Head said with Morse’s defeat, even a close race in Pueblo would equal a victory for the rights of the people.
“We were outspent nearly 20 to one and the election rules were changed by Democrats to make it easier to commit voter fraud. In spite of all this, Morse lost his seat,” Head said. “Regardless of what happens with Giron, the fact we were able to get this far is, in and of itself, a victory for the people of this state.”
“This sends a powerful message that elected officials can still be held accountable by the people. This should send a message to other politicians who favor gun control that they will be in for the fight of their life for going against the will of the people.”