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Colo. Supreme Court rules Lorena Garcia can't be on Senate Democratic primary ballot

Decision follows ruling Monday in Ferrigno Warren's case
Colorado Supreme Court
Posted at 6:23 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 20:23:05-04

DENVER – The Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday removed a second Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from June’s primary ballot in a reversal of a district court ruling.

The court ruled that Lorena Garcia should be removed from the ballot because she did not gather enough valid signatures from each congressional district, as it did Michelle Ferrigno Warren on Monday, but Garcia has vowed to try to fight the ruling.

The Supreme Court wrote that “because the signature minimum requirement … must be strictly complied with … the district court’s order directing the Secretary of State to place Lorena Garcia’s name on the June Democratic primary ballot is reversed.”

Both Garcia and Ferrigno Warren were ordered onto the ballot in a decision last week made by Denver District Court Judge Christopher Baumann. He said that though she had only gathered about half the signatures she needed to get onto the primary ballot and didn’t meet congressional district requirements, the COVID-19 outbreak created extenuating circumstances on signature gathering and that she had garnered enough support considering the outbreak.

Secretary of State Jena Griswold appealed the ruling. And in a unanimous decision issued Monday, the Colorado Supreme Court disagreed with the district court’s ruling.

“In the absence of legislative change, even when a worldwide pandemic has changed so much, the minimum signature requirements are fixed,” the court wrote. “…The Election Code’s minimum signature mandate requires strict compliance. Ferrigno Warren did not collect the required 1,500 signatures from each congressional district.”

Garcia said in a statement that she would try to bring the case to federal courts.

“Not only did the Colorado Supreme Court, on behalf of the Secretary of State, violate my campaign's right to have its side heard, the Colorado state legislature failed in ensuring equal protection under the law when they had the chance to protect the public health of circulators and voters when Covid-19 struck Colorado. This violated the people of Colorado's right to support their candidate,” she said in the statement.

She said it was the duty of her and her supporters “to fight this violation of our democratic process.”

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said it would work with the Attorney General’s Office to decide what might come next should Garcia file an appeal.

“The Secretary of State's office recognizes the challenges posed by the coronavirus, and believes our democratic processes must remain accessible and fair during this trying time,” spokesperson Betsy Hart said in a statement. “Once the case has been filed in Federal court, we will review and work closely with the Attorney General's office to determine our next steps.”