Election process worries some

Town does not require signature checks, secrecy sleeves

Posted

The Castle Rock Town Council took time during its Aug. 5 meeting to answer concerns of some residents about the ballot process for the Aug. 19 special election.

Councilmember Jennifer Green asked the town clerk to shed light on three specific issues that have prompted public worry: the lack of signature verification when processing votes, the lack of “privacy sleeves” to conceal ballots and the practice of starting to count the mail-in ballots up to 15 days before the election.

According to Town Clerk Sally Misare, neither state municipal code nor the Town of Castle Rock's own election code requires signature verification.

The town does not currently have access to the statewide database of signatures.

Town officials said it may be possible to acquire a database of pdf images of all of the signatures of voters that are registered in the town from the state, but added that they would not have the appropriate software to utilize it, meaning that verification would be a tedious task of loading each signature image to compare to each ballot.

The town's election code does not require secrecy sleeves, which are simply pieces of paper used to conceal ballots.

“In our case, the ballot is not printed on both sides, so it's as simple as folding your ballot to conceal your votes and that is an acceptable practice,” Misare said.

The clerk added that beginning to process ballots prior to the closing of polls is done in virtually all municipalities that vote by mail.

When ballots are processed early, the votes are not counted until polls are closed.

The ballots themselves are checked by election judges for authenticity and separated from the envelopes that they were mailed in. The ballots are then put into groups of 50 and sent through a machine to be counted.

Then, once the polls have closed, a programing card is put into the machine telling it to stop counting ballots and start reading votes.

Misare said that if the processing of ballots does not begin early, there would likely be a significant delay in getting the election results.

Of the three issues, councilmembers were most concerned about the lack of signature verification. The council was in unanimous agreement about the need for, and importance of, using signature verification; however, members disagreed about how soon it would be feasible to implement the practice.

Several members of the public spoke at the meeting urging the town to adopt the process, warning of possible opportunities for fraud without signature verification.

The authenticity of ballots is currently confirmed by comparing the issued ballot number and name to the name and number listed on the town's list of registered voters. Town Attorney Robert Slentz advised council that changing the election rules during the election could open them up to a possible lawsuit.

Green and councilmember George Teal favored finding a way to incorporate some form of signature verification into the Aug. 19 election.

“We don't have any processes in place to do this,” Castle Rock Mayor Paul Donahue said. “We haven't trained any of the election judges to do this, and we're asking them to begin this brand new process that they've never done before, that we've got nothing in place to do, and we're asking them to figure it out and do it on the run.

“I just think that it's completely unreasonable to ask them, at this point, to do that. I understand what you're saying, but I disagree that now is the time to implement signature verification when we've never done it before.”

Council asked town staff to come up with a plan for implementing signature verification for future elections and set the first meeting of December as a target date for the presentation.

Castle Rock currently has no ballot question in the county's November election.

The next scheduled regular election for the town is in April 2016.

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MaryofCastleRock

FYI Election ends August 19th. Here again is some FAQ I compiled to help registered voters make an informed decision.

FAQ about the Castle Rock August 19 ballot measures

What is going to be on the ballot?

There are two referendums on the ballot:

Ballot Referendum A:

SHALL TOWN COUNCIL ORDINANCE 2014-03 BE APPROVED WHICH ORDINANCE REVOKES THE AUTHORITY OF THE TOWN MANAGER UNDER THE MUNICIPAL CODE TO PROHIBIT THE OPEN CARRYING OF FIREARMS WITHIN MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS, PARKS, RECREATION AREAS AND OTHER MUNICIPAL PROPERTIES OWNED OR OPERATED BY THE TOWN OF CASTLE ROCK?

YES __ NO __

• Vote NO if you are against openly carried guns on town property. As written a “NO” vote will solidify the current municipal code and keep the town manager posting signage at his discretion a ban on openly carried guns. Our current town manager, like his predecessors, has decided to prohibit the open and carry of guns on town property. The town council would not be allowed to propose altering or removing the ordinance for 6 months after the vote.

• Vote YES if you want people to be allowed to openly carried guns on town property. A “YES” vote will revoke the town managers authority, signage will be removed from town property and openly carried guns will be allowed.

• Ordinance 2014-03 does not affect conceal and carry permit holders.

• Town employees other than those specifically designated will remain restricted from carrying fire arms while on duty.

• It is important to note this is not a vote for a straight up or down vote on openly carried guns on town property. But whether to keep an existing ordinance which has been place since 2003.

After some deliberation, an additional ballot measures was added by the Town Council.

Referendum B.

Section 1-5. Constitutional Rights.

Any restriction or limitation on the rights of citizens to keep and bear firearms enacted by the Town Council shall require the approval of the registered electors as a referred measure under Section 15-4 of this Charter. This Section shall not apply to Town Council action which makes unlawful the discharge or brandishing of firearms. This Section shall govern and control over Articles II and VII or any other conflicting provision of this Charter, and shall apply only to Council action taken after its adoption.

YES___ NO___

• A “YES” vote would create a new amendment, 5-1, to the town charter.

• No other constitution rights are mentioned in the town charter.

• No other town or city in Colorado has a similar amendment that could be found.

• If passed by the voters the council will have to accept the amendment and any further firearm restrictions will require a town vote.

• Brandishing of firearms is not specifically mentioned in the town code or charter as a Town Council action.

• Article II has to do with the powers of the Town Council and Article VII is about the creation of ordinances, resolutions and motions

• Will not affect the voting results of Referendum A since it will take in effect only after town council approval.

Who can vote?

All registered voters living within the town limits. If you are a registered Castle Rock voter and have not received your ballot in the mail by August 7th contact Sally Misare the City Clerk at 303-660-1367. Voting concludes August 19th.

Why is this election held in August?

In January, the Castle Rock town council approved to remove the town managers power to post the prohibiting of openly carried fire arms on town property. In February, local petitioners were able to collect over 2500 signatures of registered Castle Rock voters to repeal the decision. Town council then had the choice of keeping the original restriction or putting the ordinance to a vote within the next 100 days. The town council stated that this issue too important not to put it to a vote and chose the August 19th date. The current estimated cost of the special election is $50,000.

What properties are affected by these ballot measure?

Town-owned buildings posted to prohibit open carry

Fire Headquarters, 300 Perry St.

Fire Station 154, 3801 Prairie Hawk Drive

Fire Station 155, 3833 N. Crowfoot Valley Road

Police / Municipal Court building, 100 Perry St.

Recreation Center, 2301 Woodlands Blvd.

Service Center, 4175 N. Castleton Court

Town Hall, 100 N. Wilcox St.

Utilities administration building, 175 Kellogg Court

Town-owned parks:

Bison Park, 1390 Clear Sky Way

Butterfield Crossing Park, 3952 W. Butterfield Crossing Drive

Centennial Park, 22 N. Gilbert St.

Founders Park, 4671 Enderud Blvd.

Gemstone Park, 6145 Sapphire Pointe Blvd.

Matney Park, 5790 Lantern Circle

Metzler Ranch Community Park, 4175 Trail Boss Drive

Mitchell Gulch Park, 200 Mikelson Blvd.

Paintbrush Park, 3492 Meadows Blvd.

Rhyolite Regional Park, 1701 Crystal Valley Parkway

What is the difference between Open and Carry and Conceal and Carry?

Open and carry of a firearm is not defined in state statute. Generally, it is defined as wearing a firearm visibly, in a neutral, nonthreatening manner, which might include in a holster, on a shoulder, or carried in a hand in a nonthreatening manner. This includes all types of legal guns including long guns such as hunting rifles, semi-automatic guns, shotguns, and handguns that are carried in plain view of the public. The owner is not required to receive any training on how to safely handle or hold the weapon.

Conceal and carry handguns allows a gun owner to carry a holstered handgun which is out of view from the public. Conceal and carry owners must hold a valid permit. Permits are issued by the county sheriff, and are valid for five years. Candidates must demonstrate competence with a handgun, either by passing a training class or by other means. A person is the permitted to carry a concealed handgun "in all areas of the state” unless specifically restricted by either state or federal law.

What are the current gun carry restrictions in Castle Rock?

Castle Rock is currently an open and carry firearm town with the exception of municipally owned property which is conceal and carry handguns. The town manager can direct the posting of signage on town property to ban openly carried firearms. It is unlawful for any person, except law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties, to fire or discharge within the Town, without reasonable cause. (9.04.160)

Open and carry is allowed in Town-owned open space and trails outside of posted parks, and in some Town-owned parks, some Town-owned buildings and on all Town-owned streets, rights of way, parking lots and Town-owned facilities not posted to prohibit.

The Town does not regulate open carry for:

• Private property

• Private businesses

• Buildings owned by other local governments, such as schools, or Douglas County government buildings. Douglas County owned property is open and carry.

A municipal judge’s order prohibits firearms in Castle Rock Municipal Court when the courtroom is monitored by a metal detector.

Concealed carry with a permit is allowed almost anywhere in Town, including at Town-owned buildings and parks.

Federal laws pertaining to school zones, which include areas within 1,000 feet of a school property boundary, remain in place to restrict some firearms in those zones. There is some confusion on how and who will enforce the federal restrictions if the ballot measure is accepted. The Castle Rock Police chief has stated he will address this concern if the ballot measures passes.

Do other neighboring towns and cities have open and carry bans on municipal owned property?

City Municipal code

Denver* (a)It shall be unlawful for any person, other than authorized personnel, to possess, display, flourish, or discharge any firearm within any park, parkway, mountain park or other recreational facility. (Sec. 39-9)

Parker Ban in town parks (12.02.090)

Lone Tree Prohibition on carrying, wearing or possessing deadly weapons other than firearms at City facilities: It shall be unlawful for any person, who is not a peace officer, to knowingly wear, carry or possess any deadly weapon other than a firearm at City facilities. (10-3-10 )

Littleton (A) The open carrying of firearms in or upon public facilities including, but not limited to: buildings, sites, areas, including municipally owned, operated, or leased buildings or properties; recreation facilities; and public parks, trails, or open space is unlawful when said facilities are posted with notification that the carrying of firearms is prohibited.( 6-4-160)

Englewood The open carrying of firearms is prohibited (7-6C-6)

Centennial (b) Within the Centennial Center Park, it is unlawful to:…

(10) Knowingly possess an unconcealed firearm of any description or a concealed firearm of any description unless authorized to do so pursuant to Section 18-12-214, C.R.S., (Sec. 11-7-30)

Colorado Springs It shall be unlawful for any person to openly carry any firearm within any building owned or leased by the City (9.7.107)

Highlands Ranch 2. Possessing fireworks, firearms, archery equipment, model rockets and airplanes on any District owned or managed properties is prohibited, except as provided by C.R.S.Section 18-12-201et seq. (Section 11.1)

Aurora (a)The carrying of firearms in or upon public facilities is unlawful when said facilities are posted with notification that the carrying of firearms is prohibited. (Sec. 94-154)

Arvada Openly carry. It shall be unlawful for any person to open or openly carry any firearm in or upon any public building or specific area within the city. (Sec. 62-71.)

Lakewood Open carrying of a firearm prohibited parks, community centers, and recreational facilities. (9.32.050)

*Denver which has more stringent gun legislation was able to keep its restrictions through a decision of the Colorado Supreme Court.

Ballot and the Constitution

Opinions on gun restrictions run the spectrum. For some any impediment to gun ownership is an affront to constitutional rights. For others, openly carried guns signify a threat of intimidation and personal harm as a result their availability should be curtailed. With over 200 years of interpretation, it has remained controversial.

There are existing laws upheld by our legal and legislative systems including both the Colorado and Supreme Courts that do restrict gun ownership in concert with the second amendment of the constitution. There is a federal mandated 1000 foot buffer for schools. Private property owners can request guns not be on their property. Court houses and our State Capitol ban guns. Want to run a residential daycare facility, be a foster parent, run a treatment center? You will need to lock up any firearms. As was shown in the previous chart that although much of Colorado is essentially open and carry many of the front range cities and towns have chosen to have open and carry firearm restriction on municipally owned property.

These laws were debated and passed by citizens exercising their right to vote. You will be asked to do the same in August.

Where can I get more information?

Information for this article was obtained through several websites, the municipal codes of several Colorado towns and cities, observations of Castle Rock Town Council meetings, and discussion with stakeholders like the Castle Rock Chief of Police, Town Clerk, and Town Attorney.

Below is a list of additional websites

www.crgov.com Castle Rock Town Website

https://www.facebook.com/norepeal.castlerock No Repeal facebook page

http://www.nraila.org/gun-laws/state-laws/colorado.aspx NRA’s Gun law page

http://www.colocode.com/CastleRockpdf.html Castle Rock Charter and Municipal Code

http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/StatePatrol-Main/CBON/1251594549010 Colorado gun laws

Thursday, August 14, 2014 | Report this
MaryofCastleRock

FYI Election ends August 19th. Here again is some FAQ I compiled to help registered voters make an informed decision.

FAQ about the Castle Rock August 19 ballot measures

What is going to be on the ballot?

There are two referendums on the ballot:

Ballot Referendum A:

SHALL TOWN COUNCIL ORDINANCE 2014-03 BE APPROVED WHICH ORDINANCE REVOKES THE AUTHORITY OF THE TOWN MANAGER UNDER THE MUNICIPAL CODE TO PROHIBIT THE OPEN CARRYING OF FIREARMS WITHIN MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS, PARKS, RECREATION AREAS AND OTHER MUNICIPAL PROPERTIES OWNED OR OPERATED BY THE TOWN OF CASTLE ROCK?

YES __ NO __

• Vote NO if you are against openly carried guns on town property. As written a “NO” vote will solidify the current municipal code and keep the town manager posting signage at his discretion a ban on openly carried guns. Our current town manager, like his predecessors, has decided to prohibit the open and carry of guns on town property. The town council would not be allowed to propose altering or removing the ordinance for 6 months after the vote.

• Vote YES if you want people to be allowed to openly carried guns on town property. A “YES” vote will revoke the town managers authority, signage will be removed from town property and openly carried guns will be allowed.

• Ordinance 2014-03 does not affect conceal and carry permit holders.

• Town employees other than those specifically designated will remain restricted from carrying fire arms while on duty.

• It is important to note this is not a vote for a straight up or down vote on openly carried guns on town property. But whether to keep an existing ordinance which has been place since 2003.

After some deliberation, an additional ballot measures was added by the Town Council.

Referendum B.

Section 1-5. Constitutional Rights.

Any restriction or limitation on the rights of citizens to keep and bear firearms enacted by the Town Council shall require the approval of the registered electors as a referred measure under Section 15-4 of this Charter. This Section shall not apply to Town Council action which makes unlawful the discharge or brandishing of firearms. This Section shall govern and control over Articles II and VII or any other conflicting provision of this Charter, and shall apply only to Council action taken after its adoption.

YES___ NO___

• A “YES” vote would create a new amendment, 5-1, to the town charter.

• No other constitution rights are mentioned in the town charter.

• No other town or city in Colorado has a similar amendment that could be found.

• If passed by the voters the council will have to accept the amendment and any further firearm restrictions will require a town vote.

• Brandishing of firearms is not specifically mentioned in the town code or charter as a Town Council action.

• Article II has to do with the powers of the Town Council and Article VII is about the creation of ordinances, resolutions and motions

• Will not affect the voting results of Referendum A since it will take in effect only after town council approval.

Who can vote?

All registered voters living within the town limits. If you are a registered Castle Rock voter and have not received your ballot in the mail by August 7th contact Sally Misare the City Clerk at 303-660-1367. Voting concludes August 19th.

Why is this election held in August?

In January, the Castle Rock town council approved to remove the town managers power to post the prohibiting of openly carried fire arms on town property. In February, local petitioners were able to collect over 2500 signatures of registered Castle Rock voters to repeal the decision. Town council then had the choice of keeping the original restriction or putting the ordinance to a vote within the next 100 days. The town council stated that this issue too important not to put it to a vote and chose the August 19th date. The current estimated cost of the special election is $50,000.

What properties are affected by these ballot measure?

Town-owned buildings posted to prohibit open carry

Fire Headquarters, 300 Perry St.

Fire Station 154, 3801 Prairie Hawk Drive

Fire Station 155, 3833 N. Crowfoot Valley Road

Police / Municipal Court building, 100 Perry St.

Recreation Center, 2301 Woodlands Blvd.

Service Center, 4175 N. Castleton Court

Town Hall, 100 N. Wilcox St.

Utilities administration building, 175 Kellogg Court

Town-owned parks:

Bison Park, 1390 Clear Sky Way

Butterfield Crossing Park, 3952 W. Butterfield Crossing Drive

Centennial Park, 22 N. Gilbert St.

Founders Park, 4671 Enderud Blvd.

Gemstone Park, 6145 Sapphire Pointe Blvd.

Matney Park, 5790 Lantern Circle

Metzler Ranch Community Park, 4175 Trail Boss Drive

Mitchell Gulch Park, 200 Mikelson Blvd.

Paintbrush Park, 3492 Meadows Blvd.

Rhyolite Regional Park, 1701 Crystal Valley Parkway

What is the difference between Open and Carry and Conceal and Carry?

Open and carry of a firearm is not defined in state statute. Generally, it is defined as wearing a firearm visibly, in a neutral, nonthreatening manner, which might include in a holster, on a shoulder, or carried in a hand in a nonthreatening manner. This includes all types of legal guns including long guns such as hunting rifles, semi-automatic guns, shotguns, and handguns that are carried in plain view of the public. The owner is not required to receive any training on how to safely handle or hold the weapon.

Conceal and carry handguns allows a gun owner to carry a holstered handgun which is out of view from the public. Conceal and carry owners must hold a valid permit. Permits are issued by the county sheriff, and are valid for five years. Candidates must demonstrate competence with a handgun, either by passing a training class or by other means. A person is the permitted to carry a concealed handgun "in all areas of the state” unless specifically restricted by either state or federal law.

What are the current gun carry restrictions in Castle Rock?

Castle Rock is currently an open and carry firearm town with the exception of municipally owned property which is conceal and carry handguns. The town manager can direct the posting of signage on town property to ban openly carried firearms. It is unlawful for any person, except law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties, to fire or discharge within the Town, without reasonable cause. (9.04.160)

Open and carry is allowed in Town-owned open space and trails outside of posted parks, and in some Town-owned parks, some Town-owned buildings and on all Town-owned streets, rights of way, parking lots and Town-owned facilities not posted to prohibit.

The Town does not regulate open carry for:

• Private property

• Private businesses

• Buildings owned by other local governments, such as schools, or Douglas County government buildings. Douglas County owned property is open and carry.

A municipal judge’s order prohibits firearms in Castle Rock Municipal Court when the courtroom is monitored by a metal detector.

Concealed carry with a permit is allowed almost anywhere in Town, including at Town-owned buildings and parks.

Federal laws pertaining to school zones, which include areas within 1,000 feet of a school property boundary, remain in place to restrict some firearms in those zones. There is some confusion on how and who will enforce the federal restrictions if the ballot measure is accepted. The Castle Rock Police chief has stated he will address this concern if the ballot measures passes.

Do other neighboring towns and cities have open and carry bans on municipal owned property?

City Municipal code

Denver* (a)It shall be unlawful for any person, other than authorized personnel, to possess, display, flourish, or discharge any firearm within any park, parkway, mountain park or other recreational facility. (Sec. 39-9)

Parker Ban in town parks (12.02.090)

Lone Tree Prohibition on carrying, wearing or possessing deadly weapons other than firearms at City facilities: It shall be unlawful for any person, who is not a peace officer, to knowingly wear, carry or possess any deadly weapon other than a firearm at City facilities. (10-3-10 )

Littleton (A) The open carrying of firearms in or upon public facilities including, but not limited to: buildings, sites, areas, including municipally owned, operated, or leased buildings or properties; recreation facilities; and public parks, trails, or open space is unlawful when said facilities are posted with notification that the carrying of firearms is prohibited.( 6-4-160)

Englewood The open carrying of firearms is prohibited (7-6C-6)

Centennial (b) Within the Centennial Center Park, it is unlawful to:…

(10) Knowingly possess an unconcealed firearm of any description or a concealed firearm of any description unless authorized to do so pursuant to Section 18-12-214, C.R.S., (Sec. 11-7-30)

Colorado Springs It shall be unlawful for any person to openly carry any firearm within any building owned or leased by the City (9.7.107)

Highlands Ranch 2. Possessing fireworks, firearms, archery equipment, model rockets and airplanes on any District owned or managed properties is prohibited, except as provided by C.R.S.Section 18-12-201et seq. (Section 11.1)

Aurora (a)The carrying of firearms in or upon public facilities is unlawful when said facilities are posted with notification that the carrying of firearms is prohibited. (Sec. 94-154)

Arvada Openly carry. It shall be unlawful for any person to open or openly carry any firearm in or upon any public building or specific area within the city. (Sec. 62-71.)

Lakewood Open carrying of a firearm prohibited parks, community centers, and recreational facilities. (9.32.050)

*Denver which has more stringent gun legislation was able to keep its restrictions through a decision of the Colorado Supreme Court.

Ballot and the Constitution

Opinions on gun restrictions run the spectrum. For some any impediment to gun ownership is an affront to constitutional rights. For others, openly carried guns signify a threat of intimidation and personal harm as a result their availability should be curtailed. With over 200 years of interpretation, it has remained controversial.

There are existing laws upheld by our legal and legislative systems including both the Colorado and Supreme Courts that do restrict gun ownership in concert with the second amendment of the constitution. There is a federal mandated 1000 foot buffer for schools. Private property owners can request guns not be on their property. Court houses and our State Capitol ban guns. Want to run a residential daycare facility, be a foster parent, run a treatment center? You will need to lock up any firearms. As was shown in the previous chart that although much of Colorado is essentially open and carry many of the front range cities and towns have chosen to have open and carry firearm restriction on municipally owned property.

These laws were debated and voted on by citizens.

Where can I get more information?

Information for this article was obtained through several websites, the municipal codes of several Colorado towns and cities, observations of Castle Rock Town Council meetings, and discussion with stakeholders like the Castle Rock Chief of Police, Town Clerk, and Town Attorney.

Below is a list of additional websites

www.crgov.com Castle Rock Town Website

https://www.facebook.com/norepeal.castlerock No Repeal facebook page

http://www.nraila.org/gun-laws/state-laws/colorado.aspx NRA’s Gun law page

http://www.colocode.com/CastleRockpdf.html Castle Rock Charter and Municipal Code

http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/StatePatrol-Main/CBON/1251594549010 Colorado gun laws

Thursday, August 14, 2014 | Report this