Saturday, August 17, 2019

Town of Pitkin voter issue settled

State attorney closes investigation

By Katherine Nettles

Several voters in Pitkin who were previously charged for voting inappropriately have been declared eligible to vote in Pitkin in future elections by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

In January, the Secretary of State’s office issued a Declaratory Order concluding, “Petitioners Marie Rossmiller, Kevin Brophy, Douglas Bower, Brian David Holt, and any similarly situated voters in Pitkin were properly registered to vote at their residence addresses in Pitkin, Colorado, and were eligible to vote using those addresses in the November 6, 2018, general election.”

The matter was sent to the U.S. Attorney’s office late in 2018 when four individuals, including Rossmiller and Bower, petitioned the Colorado Secretary of State’s office requesting intervention. They maintained they had been victims of voter suppression within the small town in Gunnison County.

The district attorney’s office had been notified of ten separate cases and had investigated and charged eight people with violating election statutes. Seventh Judicial District attorney Dan Hotsenpiller said at the time that Rossmiller was the only one who exercised her right to a trial, and was found guilty for having voted in the wrong jurisdiction. The other seven pleaded either guilty or no contest, and accepted reduced charges.

Deputy secretary of state Suzanne Staiert sympathized with the voters at the time, issuing the initial September Declaratory Order. It was then sent to the U.S. Attorney’s office for investigation, and determined that all four parties are now eligible to vote.

The addendum to the order, issued January 7, 2019, extends the decision beyond the November 6, 2018 general election. 

“I find that the Petitioners, and those similarly situated to the Petitioners, are eligible to vote in all future Pitkin elections as long as they maintain residency within the town of Pitkin, Colorado,” wrote Staiert on the final agency Decision Declaration addendum on January 7.

Serena Woods, communications director of the Secretary of State’s office, said via e-mail that the newest orders extended the state attorney’s opinion on future elections, “so long as the folks listed in the order remained residents,” but that the final orders do not have any bearing on the previous charges.

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