• Once votes are cast in an election, there are only two ways they can be invalidated and not counted: death or withdrawal, attorneys for Adams County residents argued Wednesday in front of the Colorado Supreme Court.

    But the application of that rule, or the possibility that a “gap” exists requiring the secretary of state to step in and fill, was part of the issue in the hour-long hearing.

    The state’s highest court has agreed to review a Denver District Court ruling that gave a school board seat for Adams 12 Five Star School District to ineligible candidate Amy Speers.

    The Supreme Court justices challenged arguments from both attorneys.

    Just a week before the November election, the school district found out Speers, a union-backed candidate, did not meet residential requirements to run for the District 4 seat.

    After Speers refused to withdraw, Secretary of State Scott Gessler issued an emergency rule after 5 p.m. on Election Day disqualifying Speers and directing county clerks not to count her votes.

    About two weeks later, Denver District Court Judge Robert Hyatt reversed Gessler’s action and the county clerks announced that Speers overwhelmingly earned more votes.

    The lower court ruled Speers had been “duly elected,” and started a vacancy process that would allow the school board to select a replacement since she still was ineligible to take a seat on the five-member board.

    LeeAnn Morrill, assistant attorney general, argued Speers’ opponent and incumbent Rico Figueroa won, even though he earned far fewer votes because Speers was disqualified.

    Morrill said the secretary of state’s authority protects the democratic process and prevents the “use of sham candidates.”

    “Why did she not withdraw?” Morrill said. “She had knowledge she was not qualified to undertake that office.”

    Justice William Hood asked if agreeing with the plaintiffs would allow unqualified candidates to control the outcome of an election.

    Edward Ramey, attorney for the Adams County voters who initiated the lawsuit, argued that once the voting has started, the votes cannot be invalidated for anything other than death or if the candidate withdraws.

    “The process belongs to voters. It doesn’t matter at this stage what her motivations were,” Ramey said. “It is the voters’ statements that count.”

    The district has earned a stay to delay the vacancy process until the court rules on the case. Figueroa has remained on the board.

    Yesenia Robles: 303-954-1372, yrobles@denverpost.com or twitter.com/yeseniarobles

    Read more: Colorado Supreme Court hears arguments in Adams 12 election case – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_25020171/state-supreme-court-hears-arguments-adams-12-election#ixzz2sCBY34zN
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    Posted by Dana West @ 12:46 pm for Adams County Politics, Candidates, Education, Elections |

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