Colorado: Judge rejects fossil fuel industry challenge to voter-approved 5-year fracking moratorium in Broomfield

A Colorado judge this week upheld the will of voters in Broomfield, Colorado, affirming the vote on a ballot measure that enacts a 5-year ban on fracking.

Election results stand, pending a potential appeal

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A bid by the fossil fuel industry to thwart the will of voters in Broomfield, Colorado failed in court this week, as 17th Judicial District Court Judge Chris Melonakis upheld the five-year fracking ban approved by voters last November.

Question 300 passed by 17 votes, triggering a recount that brought nearly the same result. The challenge by the fossil fuel industry focused on election procedures and not on the substantive issue at hand — whether Colorado residents have the right to protect themselves and their communities from potentially harmful activities.

In a press release, city officials acknowledged some problems in the administration of the election, including procedures related to undeliverable ballots, incomplete ballot duplication logs, and the handling of surplus and spoiled election materials.

But those issues weren’t enough to call the election results into doubt, according to Melonakis, who wrote: “…the Court finds and concludes that the (City and County of Broomfield) substantially complied with the election laws of the State of Colorado and that the election should not be set aside.”

Because fracking is such a hot-button issue and the vote was so close, the results were closely scrutinized, highlight procedural challenges faced by many counties conducting elections.

Evidence at the trial focused on the effects of a new election law, House Bill 13-13303, and the challenges associated with implementing the law. HB 13-1303 created durational residency requirements for voting on different jurisdictional ballot questions (e.g., state, municipal, school district) while eliminating the 30-day voter registration deadline.

These requirements, combined with inadequacies in the state voter registration database for tracking residency duration, caused Broomfield to make mistakes in determining eligibility for 10 voters in the Question 300 election.

“We are very pleased that the court has sustained the results of the election. We are also grateful to all who have participated in the rigorous review of our election and raised good questions about our procedures,” said city manager Charles Ozaki.

Ozaki said that Broomfield plans to engage a qualified, independent, consultant to perform a comprehensive third-party assessment of its election procedures. When completed, the assessment will be presented to the City Council and will provide a basis for operational improvements and election governance options for the future.


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