April 10, Denver – Brad Levin (La-veen), Democratic candidate for Colorado Attorney General, along with two Colorado voters who support his candidacy, filed suit today in Denver District Court challenging as unconstitutional the petitioning process used by the state to validate party primary candidates, and requiring the state to take immediate steps to remedy the violations.
“We’re taking this action at a moment when we still have time to affect the 2018 primary process on behalf of the voters of Colorado,” said Levin, after filing the action that named Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams as defendant. “This lawsuit challenges a process that serves to devalue and disenfranchise not just Democratic voters, but all Colorado voters, regardless of party affiliation.”
Levin claims the current petition process is unconstitutional on at least two grounds. First, requiring an equal number of petitions from congressional districts with widely different numbers of registered Democrats clearly violates the one-person one-vote standard established in law. Second, unaffiliated voters will be sent ballots for both Democratic and Republican primary elections this June; however, they are not allowed to circulate or sign petitions to put those same candidates on the ballot.
“This lawsuit is consistent with the job of Attorney General, which is to ensure that all Coloradans’ rights are protected, and that no person’s fundamental right to vote is diluted or denied,” Levin added. “It goes to the heart of the one-person one-vote principle that is at the core of our constitutional values.”
Levin says the suit’s filing follows a ruling on March 28 by Federal Judge William Martinez, striking down part of Amendment 71, the ballot measure passed in 2016 that sought to restrict how amendments to the state constitution can be brought to a vote. To qualify for the ballot, the measure required supporters of an initiative to present petitions on behalf of 2% of voters from each of Colorado’s 35 State Senate districts. In his ruling, Judge Martinez cited the great disproportion in voter representation between individual Senate districts.
The complaint filed by Levin explains that the geographical voting disparities under Colorado law governing candidate petitions are even greater than those involved in the initiative petition rules invalidated by Judge Martinez, and that this case involves not merely dilution of petition rights, but outright denial of qualified Colorado voters’ rights to petition their preferred candidate onto a ballot. The lawsuit relies on the Colorado Supreme Court’s edict that there can be “no discrimination between citizens” when it comes to the “fundamental right of every citizen” to vote. Jarmel v. Putnam, 499 P.2d 603, 603-04 (Colo. 1972).
“This is a fundamentally unconstitutional process, and one that should be remedied now, before primary ballots are authorized,” said Sean Connelly, Levin’s counsel. The lawsuit specifically suggests extending the petitioning period as a temporary remedy to allow all registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters to exercise their rights in advance of the primary.
Candidates for statewide offices may qualify for the primary ballot by filing petitions signed by 1,500 registered voters from the candidates in each of Colorado’s seven Congressional districts. Levin’s campaign for Attorney General filed approximately 16,000 signatures with the Secretary of State last month. The Secretary of State is currently validating petitions from that and each statewide race.
Brad Levin, recently named one of Colorado’s Top Ten lawyers by Super Lawyers, is founder and principal at Levin|Sitcoff PC. A lifelong Democrat, he is former chair of the Mountain States ADL Regional Board, and is a member of the ADL National Executive Committee and National Commission. His campaign is on the web at LevinForAG.com.
Brad Levin is the founder and principal at Levin | Sitcoff PC, primarily representing consumers and small businesses against insurance companies. His belief in equal justice under law has guided his practice and his commitment to the community. Brad serves on the National Executive Committee and National Commission of the Anti-Defamation League, the board of directors of National Jewish Health, and has devoted numerous hours of free legal help to organizations such as Arapahoe House, a drug and alcohol rehab treatment center, and the GLBT Community Center of Colorado.. In 2016, Brad was selected by his peers as the 2016 Lawyer of the Year for Insurance Litigation in the The Best Lawyers In America®, and in 2015, he was awarded the Kenneth N. Kripke Lifetime Achievement Award by the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association. He was recognized as a Top 10 Colorado Super Lawyer in 2013, and a Top 50 (now Top 100) Colorado Super Lawyer in 2011-2012, and 2014-2017.