Tiny town sues every resident voter


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At least nobody accidentally brutally cut his head off while combing his hair.

Oh my gosh it’s Montezuma’s revenge!


Is this the voter fraud I’ve read about?

Vernon just evicts any political challengers…
Vernon, California

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What happened in Montezuma is that the local election rules weren’t clearly explained to people with second homes there. Those people believed they could participate in the municipal election (because they own property in the town). Since it isn’t their primary residence, they couldn’t - no one really made that clear. So, this is being “flared” as “VOTER FRAUD!!!” when actually it looks like it was actually just an ineffectually run election.

They instructions weren’t clear, and another problem is that the ballots weren’t anonymous-but-trackable. Basically, the people running the election made the errors - and they’re now calling their inability to do their job right “fraud” on the part of the voters.


Yes, because I surely know I get to vote in multiple municipalities. Just like anyone.

It was fraud. The system failed to stop fraudulent votes from being counted.

You may be on top of things, but you’d be surprised how many people go through life really just not knowing what they can and cannot legally do. If the local voting instructions told them that they could vote if they owned property - and didn’t say anything about it being their primary residence - it was the error of those directing the election.

They’re required to produce instructions that clearly state the law.

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I know that when I was a kid, my aunt and uncle decided to register to vote in the town of their summer home, rather than their ‘permanent’ residence. They, as far as I know, never voted in the same year in both places. They were intending eventually to sell their city place and move to the country, and in fact some years later they did. I’d not leap to scream ‘fraud’ until we know whether the voters were actually casting double ballots.

Couldn’t they just dismiss whoever ran the election committee, hold another election and skip all this litigation against everyone?

That’s what I think the election committee is trying to avoid.

They’re shifting blame to the population because the people running the election are legally liable for whether or not it was run correctly. City clerks get sued all the time. They really need to know what they’re doing before they try to shove blame onto someone else, and other errors than the people with second homes voting in town were made in this election. I mentioned that the ballots weren’t anonymous-but-trackable - the clerk had to sew stubs onto the existing ballots - but the remaining numbers still i.d.ed voters. That’s illegal.

Here’s a recent example of suit in NJ where a clerk allowed a nickname rather than formal name of a candidate on a ballot. According to the people bringing suit, the law didn’t allow the clerk to take that action.

So I think that the people in the town are being sued because the clerk and other people associated with running the election are afraid they’re actually legally at fault.

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From the first Denver Post link above:

The new mayor said she thinks fear over possible property-tax increases drove more of the second-home owners to vote than usual.

That’s an interesting wrinkle. Yes, normally you can’t vote where your second home is located, but in this case it means they are legally prohibited from representing their own interests with regard to property tax increases.

I found what looks like a more complete article on the subject. It’s not trying to focus on the lawsuit, it’s trying to explain why it happened at all: Looks like the town attorney had resigned and the new attorney stepped into the mess as one of her first duties.

“And she [the new attorney] explained to us that we had actually done quite a few things wrong,” Mayor Davis recounts.

So a court got called in - and the residents replied by calling in their own attorney. People are apparently still talking, and that’s probably because those who ran the election aren’t ignoring the fact that they really blew it. They’re well aware that they made several mistakes. One of them was taking too long in addressing the problem.

Any news outlet just parroting the Denver Post won’t have more information.

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Presumably the 61 voters also include the mayor and the clerk?

Is it legal to bring a case against yourself? Are you allowed to be plaintiff and defendant?

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I wondered the same thing. I haven’t seen the court docs, but I’m guessing that since it’s “the town” vs “the named voters” it’s OK in this case. That’s because the town is an entity itself. If the mayor and clerk aren’t named plaintiffs, they should be able to be defendants. I think it’s the same as a condo complex Association suing the owners if a fine has been levied against the Association. (It gets complicated, but it happens.)

I also have to question this statement brought up from the very beginning:

The problem arose because 13 of the 51 voters and two of the candidates allegedly aren’t really full-time residents of Montezuma and thus are not qualified to vote or run for office there.

I looked in to Colorado law, and it looks like you have to reside in state full time, and have resided in the jurisdiction for 22 days prior to the election to claim it as your residence. You can’t claim two residences (fraud) or vote twice (fraud) or have less than 22 days prior to the election at that residence (also fraud).

So, it may be that the voters were legal. It just depends on how long they’d been in residence in their second homes. They can move freely about the state at any time any election isn’t going on.

Your residence is the place you call home, and to which you intend to return. You don’t have to sleep there every night for 22 days prior to the election. You just have to declare it as your residence 22 days in advance. If you own two houses, it’s your choice which one is your primary residence. My aunt and uncle had a period of years in which they were “residents” of the country place and “temporarily” lived in the city on weekdays for work.

The 22-day requirement may be unconstitutional. Consider the case of someone who closes on a house 14 days prior to the election. They cannot vote in their previous jurisdiction, where they are no longer residents, nor in their current one, where they have not met the 22-day minimum. They are disenfranchised. This case is one of the reasons that so many states have enacted "provisional ballot’ reforms. For what it’s worth, in many states it used to be considerably worse. The one year of my life in which I didn’t vote, it was because I had moved in September and could not satisfy my county’s 90-day residency requirement.

I agree.

Colorado’s state law is apparently that you must reside in the state of Colorado for at least 22 days prior to an election in which you intend to vote. Here’s a link to their state voter registration form (pdf). Some places in Colorado are taking it further and requiring you live at an address in their district for 22 days prior to an election.

This is the affidavit from the CA online voter reg process. You aren’t required to live a certain time within CA or even post a street address on the web service. It provides for homeless people to be able to vote.


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