State To Send Official To Oversee Springs Elections

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Weeks before the elections will even take place, the controversy surrounding the results continues to heat up, and now a state official will be sent to oversee Colorado Springs municipal elections.

A group of candidates for strong mayor and city council banded together last week and requested that the Secretary of State Scott Gessler to send an elections official to oversee the results, implying they do not trust Colorado Springs City Clerk Kathryn Young to handle the election results accurately.

The following is the official letter of request sent to the Secretary of State Scott Gessler's office:

March 15, 2011
Secretary of State Scott Gessler
Colorado Department of State
1700 Broadway, Denver, CO 80290
Secretary Gessler:
In the last several months there have been ongoing concerns regarding Colorado Springs City Clerk Kathryn Young and her office.
We now lack confidence that the upcoming Municipal Election will be conducted in a fair and unbiased manner. We are asking your office to step in, observe, and ensure a honest and transparent election process.
Ms. Young and her office have made numerous errors causing confusion among candidates for both City Council and Mayor.
These errors include:
1. Tearing up legally collected petitions for a Council candidate in District 3.
2. Incorrect order for the initial ballot listing of Council candidates for District 2.
3. Changing the published date that ballots would be mailed to voters.
4. Creating confusion regarding legality of municipal candidates receiving corporate contributions.
Due to the passage of the Strong Mayor city charter amendment in November, 2010, Ms. Young, for the first time, will be directly affected by the outcome of this election. Can she be an unbiased, objective election official given these circumstances?
We, the undersigned, now lack confidence in the Colorado Springs City Clerk and her office to ensure the April 5, 2011 Municipal Election is fair, honest, and transparent.
We hereby make a formal request of your office to send a state Elections Official to observe the Colorado Springs City Clerk and her office as they mail, receive, and count the ballots for the April 5, 2011 Municipal Election.
As ballots are intended to be mailed this coming Wednesday, March 16, 2011 we ask for an immediate response to this request.

Brian Bahr, Candidate for Mayor
Tom Gallagher, Candidate for Mayor
Buddy Gilmore, Candidate for Mayor
Lisa Czelatdko, Candidate for City Council District 3
Angela Dougan, Candidate for City Council District 2

Mayor Rivera, along with Young, responded by saying the city clerk's office is perfectly capable of handling an election accurately and responsibly, as they've done for several previous elections.

"The City Clerk for the City of Colorado Springs has run numerous elections. The April 2011 election will be run with complete transparency and in accordance with all state laws, as usual, according to Mayor Lionel Rivera in a letter to Secretary of State Scott Gessler. The media is also invited to observe as the results begin posting at the City Administration Building after the polls close at 7 PM April 5, 2011."

Now, the Secretary of State says they will indeed send an elections official to observe the proceedings of Election Night. The following was sent from the office of the Secretary of State Friday:

Today Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced his office will designate an election observer for the April 5th municipal election in Colorado Springs. The designation is welcomed by City Clerk Kathryn Young and comes in response to her request and requests for oversight by several candidates in the election.

“We all share the desire for open and fair elections,” Secretary Gessler said. “We welcome the opportunity to send observers from the Secretary of State’s office at the invitation of the city. I compliment Clerk Young’s willingness to be open and transparent. And we also thank the candidates for working to ensure the integrity of the election.”

Following discussions with city officials, members of the Secretary of State’s office will be present in the formal election observer role. That means observing all processes involved in the preparation and conduct of the election.

The municipal elections will take place Tuesday, April 5. Ballots have been mailed out to registered voters and must be either mailed back or dropped off at one of the designed drop-off locations by 7 p.m. on April 5. Click on the link below for more information on elections and to meet all of the seven strong mayor candidates.

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