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Losing candidates sue in West Metro election

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By Ramsey Scott

Two losing candidates in the West Metro Fire District’s May 6 board election are suing to void the results due to what they claim was a lack of secrecy in the ballot counting. 

The lawsuit — filed June 2 by District 3 candidate Clyde Wadsworth, District 2 candidate Devin Howard, the two candidates’ authorized election watcher, and the Colorado Union of Taxpayers — claims the secrecy of the ballots was broached during the count.  

The lawsuit names West Metro, its election coordinator and the winning candidates as defendants. 

In the suit, the plaintiffs claim that voters’ information was left attached to ballots, thereby eliminating the voters’ right to a secret vote. At one point, the suit claims sticky notes with voters’ names were attached to ballots while they were being counted. 

“This election was done with disregard with the secrecy of the ballot which is required by the constitution,” said Colorado Union of Taxpayers president Gregory Golyansky. “When we saw to the degree with which the constitutional requirements were disregarded, and the way this could potentially intimidate potential voters and muddles the will of the people, the election couldn’t be allowed to stand.”

The May 6 election saw a record turnout for West Metro, with more than 30,000 ballots cast. It was also the first all-mail election for the district. In the election, a proposed 3-mill property-tax increase was defeated. 

The suit is asking for only the board election to be invalidated and for any action taken by the newly elected board since May 6 to be voided. 

“We’re disappointed they filed, and we don’t think it has merit,” said West Metro Fire Chief Don Lombardi. “Obviously, we’re going to fight it.”

Lombardi said employees of West Metro were not allowed into the counting room and the election was held according to state law. 

“We have a law firm that advises us on the election and how to run it,” Lombardi said. “We think we did everything according to the law, and we think we provided a fair election.”

 

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22 and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.