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1-7-105. Watchers at primary elections

Overview of Statute

For primary elections, participating political parties are entitled to one watcher, previously certified by the county clerk and recorder, for each precinct in the county. The chairperson for the party’s county central committee should submit the watcher for certification by the Friday immediately preceding the election. In accordance with the same requirements, a candidate may also appoint one watcher in every precinct voting for the candidate.

Statute

(1) Each political party participating in a primary election shall be entitled to have a watcher in each precinct in the county. The chairperson of the county central committee of each political party shall certify the persons selected as watchers on forms provided by the county clerk and recorder and submit the names of the persons selected as watchers to the county clerk and recorder. To the extent possible, the chairperson shall submit the names by the close of business on the Friday immediately preceding the election.

(2) In addition, candidates for nomination on the ballot of any political party in a primary election shall be entitled to appoint some person to act on their behalf in every precinct in which they are a candidate. Each candidate shall certify the persons appointed as watchers on forms provided by the county clerk and recorder and submit the names of the persons selected as watchers to the county clerk and recorder. To the extent possible, the candidate shall submit the names by the close of business on the Friday immediately preceding the election.

 

Source: L. 92: Entire article R&RE, p. 733, § 9, effective January 1, 1993.L. 2007: Entire section amended, p. 1977, § 22, effective August 3.

 

Editor’s note: This section is similar to former § 1-7-202 as it existed prior to 1992.
 
ANNOTATION
 
I. General Consideration.
II. Irregularities.
 
I. GENERAL CONSIDERATION.

Law reviews. For article, “Watchers in Colorado Elections”, see 43 Colo. Law. 37 (June 2014).

Annotator’s note. The following annotations include cases decided under former provisions similar to this section.

Designation of poll watchers for political organizations is not required in order to ensure constitutional access to the voting process. Baer v. Meyer, 728 F.2d 471 (10th Cir. 1984).
 
II.IRREGULARITIES.

The presumption that election officers have faithfully discharged their duties always obtains until the contrary is shown. Londoner v. People ex rel. Barton, 15 Colo. 557, 26 P. 135 (1890); Baldauf v. Gunson, 90 Colo. 243, 8 P.2d 265 (1932).

And the will of the people should not be defeated by an honest mistake of election officers. Baldauf v. Gunson, 90 Colo. 243, 8 P.2d 265 (1932).

Moreover, literal compliance with prescribed forms is not required if the spirit of the law is not violated. Baldauf v. Gunson, 90 Colo. 243, 8 P.2d 265 (1932).

And form should be subservient to substance when no legal voter has been deprived of his vote and no injury of any kind has been done to anyone. Baldauf v. Gunson, 90 Colo. 243, 8 P.2d 265 (1932).

But where there is a gross disregard of the procedure and formalities required in the conduct of elections, whether permitted by design, through ignorance, or negligence, the returns should be rejected. People v. Lindsey, 80 Colo. 465, 253 P. 465 (1927).

However, it is not necessary that actual fraud should be committed. People v. Lindsey, 80 Colo. 465, 253 P. 465 (1927).

Rather, when it is clearly established that frauds subversive of the purity of the ballot box and tending to nullify the popular will have been perpetrated by the election officers of a precinct, or have been perpetrated by others with their knowledge, connivance, and consent, and the extent of such frauds cannot be disclosed with reasonable certainty, the official returns from the precinct should be thrown out. Londoner v. People ex rel. Barton, 15 Colo. 557, 26 P. 135 (1890); Baldauf v. Gunson, 90 Colo. 243, 8 P.2d 265 (1932).

However, where the counting officers divulged how the vote stood and left the tally books in an unlocked box, such irregularities did not constitute fraud subversive of the purity of the ballot box and tending to nullify the popular will or such culpable negligence as to render the doings of the election officials unworthy of credence and destroy the integrity of the returns. Baldauf v. Gunson, 90 Colo. 243, 8 P.2d 265 (1932).

Entire poll ordinarily not rejected. The fact that illegal ballots have been cast, or that other irregularities have taken place, does not ordinarily warrant the rejection of the entire poll. Londoner v. People ex rel. Barton, 15 Colo. 557, 26 P. 135 (1890); Baldauf v. Gunson, 90 Colo. 243, 8 P.2d 265 (1932).

But where it is impossible to separate with reasonable certainty legal from illegal votes, the entire vote should be rejected. People v. Lindsey, 80 Colo. 465, 253 P. 465 (1927).
Annotation: October 12, 2016 4:04 am

For article on how poll-watching can go too far and lead to intimidation and harassment, see http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/08/poll-election-monitor-challengers-vote-laws-watchers-214189.

Definition [Political party]

Any group of registered electors who, by petition or assembly, nominate candidates for the official general election ballot. “Political party” includes affiliated party organizations at the state, county, and election district levels, and all such affiliates are considered to be a single entity for the purposes of this article, except as otherwise provided in section 7. Section 2(13) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

Definition [Political organization]

Any group of registered electors who, by petition for nomination of an unaffiliated candidate as provided in section 1-4-802, places upon the official general election ballot nominees for public office. C.R.S. § 1-1-104.

 

Alternate Meaning for Art. 45:

 

A political organization defined in section 527 (e) (1) of the federal “Internal Revenue Code of 1986”, as amended, that is engaged in influencing or attempting to influence the selection, nomination, election, or appointment of any individual to any state or local public office in the state and that is exempt, or intends to seek any exemption, from taxation pursuant to section 527 of the internal revenue code. “Political organization” shall not be construed to have the same meaning as “political organization” as defined in section 1-1-104 (24) for purposes of the “Uniform Election Code of 1992”, articles 1 to 13 of this title.

 

C.R.S. § 1-45-103

Definition [Ballot]

(a) A federal write-in absentee ballot;

(b) A ballot specifically prepared or distributed for use by a covered voter in accordance with this article; or

(c) A ballot cast by a covered voter in accordance with this article.

(2) “Covered voter” means:

(a) A uniformed-service voter defined in paragraph (a) of subsection (9) of this section who is a resident of this state but who is absent from this state by reason of active duty and who otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements;

(b) An overseas voter who, before leaving the United States, was last eligible to vote in this state and, except for a state residency requirement, otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements;

(c) An overseas voter who, before leaving the United States, would have been last eligible to vote in this state had the voter then been of voting age and, except for a state residency requirement, otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements; or

(d) An overseas voter who was born outside the United States, is not described in paragraph (b) or (c) of this subsection (2), and, except for a state residency requirement, otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements if the last place where a parent, legal guardian, spouse, or civil union partner of the voter was, or under this article would have been, eligible to vote before leaving the United States is within this state.

C.R.S. § 1-8.3-102.

Definition [Person]

Any natural person, partnership, committee, association, corporation, labor organization, political party, or other organization or group of persons. Section 2(11) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

Definition [Election]

Any election under the “Uniform Election Code of 1992” or the “Colorado Municipal Election Code of 1965”, article 10 of title 31, C.R.S. C.R.S. § 1-7.5-103.

Definition [Committee]

The committee of signers described in section 1-12-108(2). C.R.S. § 1-12-100.5.

Definition [Candidate]

Any person who seeks nomination or election to any state or local public office that is to be voted on in this state at any primary election, general election, school district election, special district election, or municipal election. “Candidate” also includes a judge or justice of any court of record who seeks to be retained in office pursuant to the provisions of section 25 of article VI. A person is a candidate for election if the person has publicly announced an intention to seek election to public office or retention of a judicial office and thereafter has received a contribution or made an expenditure in support of the candidacy. A person remains a candidate for purposes of this article so long as the candidate maintains a registered candidate committee. A person who maintains a candidate committee after an election cycle, but who has not publicly announced an intention to seek election to public office in the next or any subsequent election cycle, is a candidate for purposes of this article. Section 2(2) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

Cases

colorado Cases

Out-of-State Cases

Federal Cases

Case Name: Baer v. Meyer

Citation: 728 F.2d 471 (10th Cir. 1984)

Federal Circuit Court: 10th Circuit Court

Year: 1984

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/18141ef6e774c11cf707162eba00a6c9

Case Summary: Holding that statute distinguishing between political parties and organizations by allowing voter registrants to indicate only their affiliations with parties unnecessarily burdened minority interests, but that distinguishing between parties and organizations by allowing only parties to have poll watchers was constitutional.

Regulations & Guidance