Montezuma election draws district attorney’s office probe
Ryan Summerlin April 8, 2014
Montezuma town clerk Helen Moorman released late Tuesday, April 1 the results from the mayoral and board of trustees elections, but it could take several weeks or months to verify the results.
On Monday, April 7, 5th Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown said he’s received several petitions from local residents challenging the residency of 13 registered voters who participated in last week’s municipal election. Brown said he received a “significant amount of documentation,” the substance of which is enough to launch an investigation. The names of the voters who have had their residency questioned are being withheld, pending the completion of that investigation, Brown said.
“I haven’t figured out yet how long, wide and far the scope our investigation is going to be, but after reviewing the documents I received I made the determination today (Monday) that we need to do something,” Brown said. “This isn’t going to be determined in a matter of days and it could take as long as several months before we complete the investigation.”
Last week, Montezuma voters cast their ballots in a contested mayoral race between Lesley Davis and Mike Moorman, as well as a board of trustees election that drew the participation of 10 candidates vying for six available seats.
According to Helen Moorman’s tentative results, Davis edged Mike Moorman, 27-24, for the mayor’s seat. Mary Tuttle, Molly Hood, Mary Skowron, John Carney, Jake Still and Levi Corrigan were the top vote getters for the board of trustees.
In an email to the Summit Daily, Helen Moorman said the results are tentative due to pending verification of four provisional ballots and the DA’s investigation.
However, Brown said he does not think it is the district attorney’s responsibility to certify the election, saying he has been asked to investigate whether or not the 13 voters in question violated state criminal law by voting outside of their proper precinct.
“We do not investigate election results; those are handled by town and county clerks,” Brown said. “The remedy is with the district court and my interest is in determining whether or not anyone committed perjury or violated criminal law by knowingly casting a vote illegally.”
In the days leading up to the election, allegations surfaced that at least two candidates and as many as 17 voters are second-home owners who do not meet permanent residency requirements to hold local office or participate in local elections.
During Tuesday’s election, several poll watchers reportedly challenged the residency of 13 of those 17 voters, who were then asked to sign affidavits swearing to be permanent Montezuma residents. Those oaths were among the documents delivered to the district attorney following the election.
Rich Coolidge, a spokesman for the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, said the town clerk has a defined period of time to certify the election. The election can be certified and the candidates-elect can assume their positions amid an ongoing investigation by the district attorney’s office.
However, a formal legal challenge can still be raised in Summit County District Court after an election has been certified, Coolidge said. Should the district attorney’s office be able to prove fraud took place in Montezuma, some candidates could be removed from office if illegal ballots played a defining role in determining the outcome of the election.