Curry loses ballot fight
June 25, 2010
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Colorado Rep. Kathleen Curry, I-Gunnison, remains upbeat about her chances to win re-election to the District 61 seat in the state House, despite losing a court fight over access to the ballot in the November general election.
The ruling confirmed her status as an independent write-in candidate. Curry, who is a Gunnison rancher, faces Republican nominee Luke Korkowski, an attorney from Crested Butte, and Democrat Roger Wilson, a computer technician from Glenwood Springs. Curry’s district includes Aspen and Pitkin County.
In an e-mailed message to supporters, constituents and the media, Curry said, “As the saying goes – it is all good!”
Working with La Plata County Commissioner Joelle Riddle, Curry had challenged a state election law that imposes different rules on unaffiliated candidates than on those affiliated with a political party. Curry ended her affiliation with the Democrats last December, becoming the Legislature’s only unaffiliated member.
U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger ruled that the state’s laws did not violate the pair’s First Amendment or Equal Protection rights under the Constitution.
“The presence of independent candidates in an election has distinct benefits,” the judge wrote in her opinion, according to Curry. “But if it is totally unregulated, it can increase voter confusion and distraction, political opportunism, and obscure rather than clarify the differences between policy positions.”
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“While I am disappointed in the ruling, I very much respect the court and its decision and will move forward accordingly,” Curry said in a prepared statement.
“In this case we were not seeking to ‘totally unregulate’ the presence of independent candidates,” Curry continued, also disputing the idea that independent candidates are “causing confusion” or are “a distraction for voters.”
“Independent candidates offer an option for the over one-third of Colorado voters [who] have chosen not to participate in the two-party system,” she said.
Contacted at her Gunnison home Thursday, Curry said her strategy for the coming campaign is “really a two-pronged approach.”
First, she said she must inform voters on “why they should vote for me” and keep her in office for another term.
Just as important, she said, is that she and her campaign staff must help voters understand how they can vote for her, if they choose to, under the state’s write-in regulations.
The write-in process, according to Garfield County Clerk Jean Alberico, is “a fairly straightforward one” and should not present a barrier for voters.
She and other clerks in the five-county district have been in contact with each other and with the Secretary of State’s Office about the matter, and Alberico expressed confidence that the election will go smoothly despite the added complication.
Curry noted that state officials are predicting as much as 60 to 65 percent of the votes cast will be in early balloting, which is on paper ballots with a write-in line clearly isolated.
And Alberico said that the electronic voting machines have a well-established series of steps for accommodating write-ins.