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Monday, April 19, 2021

City Clerk to evaluate additional recall petition signatures per Adams County District Court

The Adams County District Court issued an order related to the ongoing effort to trigger a recall election for the Mayor and three other City Council members. That Order directs the City Clerk to evaluate the signatures in several previously disqualified petition sections, which had been set aside for legal non-compliance as to form, and count any valid signatures contained therein.

In September and October of 2020, a group of Westminster citizens circulated petitions seeking sufficient signatures to trigger a recall election for the Mayor and three other City Council members. The recall committee filed four petitions with the City Clerk's Office on October 30, 2020. As required by law, the City Clerk evaluated the validity of the signatures on the petitions and the petitions themselves for compliance with the law.

The City Clerk disqualified several petition sections because they included a cover page that had not been part of the petition form approved by the City Clerk pursuant to C.R.S. § 31-4-502(1)(c) and because these petition sections did not include specific warning language or a specific pre-submitted and approved statement of the grounds for the recall at the top of the first page of the section, as required by W.M.C. § 7-1-10.

The disqualification of these petition sections and other signatures disqualified for unrelated deficiencies resulted in a determination that there were insufficient valid signatures to trigger a recall election. Following a third-party protest hearing on November 24, the City Clerk issued the final Certification of Insufficiency on Monday, December 7, and an amended certification on December 10. A timeline and links to all available documentation are available on the Recall Petition page of the City of Westminster website.

The proponents of the recall attempt filed suit in the Adams County District Court on January 4, 2021, seeking to require the City Clerk to consider those signatures in the above described disqualified petition sections. An evidentiary hearing took place before the District Court on April 7 and 9, 2021. On Friday, April 16 at 10:43 p.m., the Court issued the attached Order.  

The Court ordered the City Clerk to review the signatures in previously disqualified petition sections, determining that, while there were legal deficiencies in those sections, they passed the "substantial compliance test" and should have their signatures evaluated as the other sections were. The District Court's determination that the "substantial compliance test" should apply to recall elections marks the first time a Colorado court made such a ruling.

The Court noted that the City Clerk executed her duties without bias or neglect. The Order states that "there is no evidence from the Hearing indicating [the City Clerk] neglected her duty for objectivity," and that the City Clerk "had to make her decision based on the information provided to her."

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