DENVER – Hundreds of signatures gathered by the campaign for U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) could be invalid because the workers who gathered them didn’t meet Colorado residency requirements, according to a lawsuit filed in Denver District Court.
Colorado state law states that anyone circulating a petition must be a resident of Colorado and the United States and be registered with the party of the candidate for whom they’re gathering signatures.
The suit, filed by five residents of the Colorado Springs area, alleges that seven unrelated petition circulators all claimed the same three-bedroom house in Thornton as their primary residence, which would be a violation of Thornton’s municipal code.
None of the circulators have Colorado driver’s licenses, several are residents of Michigan, one is registered to vote in Texas and several of them are members of the National Association of Professional Petitioners and Coordinators and registered to vote in Colorado just days before starting to gather signatures, the lawsuit states. The suit says one of the circulators was never registered to vote.
In all, the group collected nearly 700 of the 1,269 signatures that were submitted and accepted by the Colorado secretary of state’s office.
If the signatures are deemed to be invalid, that would put Lamborn below the 1,000-signature threshold to make the primary ballot.
Just last month, a secretly-recorded phone call raised similar questions about whether many of the people hired to gather signatures in Colorado are legally allowed to do so. In that recording, a self-identified signature gatherer said that many of his colleagues are felons and are therefore ineligible to register to vote.
Under Colorado law, signature gatherers must sign a notarized affidavit when they turn in their signatures swearing that they personally witnessed and gathered the signatures themselves -- and that they're legally eligible to do so.
Ben Schler, a legal and policy manager for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, said his office doesn’t have the resources to individually check that each person actually lives at the address they use to register.
“You are relying on the individual who’s registering to tell you that, yes, this is my residence,” Schler said. "There is, just from a time perspective, there just simply would be no way for us to expend resources to go out chasing something like that.”
Denver7 has reached out to Lamborn’s office for comment but as of the publishing of this article we had yet to hear back.