Court Upholds Imposing Fracking Ban in Colorado City by Tripp Baltz, March 3, 2014, Bloomberg
A Colorado judge has approved the results of a November 2013 vote approving a five-year ban on hydraulic fracturing in Broomfield, Colo. The Feb. 27 ruling by Colorado District Court Judge Chris Melonakis of the 17th Judicial District means Broomfield’s five-year ban on fracking remains in effect, the city said in a statement. … Broomfield was one of four Colorado cities where voters in November 2013 approved bans on fracking…. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association later sued two of the cities, Lafayette and Fort Collins. [Emphasis added]
Judge upholds Broomfield election; fracking ban remains in effect by Megan Quinn, February 27, 2014, Daily Camera Broomfield News
A Broomfield judge has upheld the results of the embattled Nov. 5 election. Judge Chris Melonakis released his decision Thursday evening. In his decision, he said Broomfield acted in good faith when conducting the election and that the results should not be tossed out. Melonakis pointed to confusing new voter residency requirements and the closeness of the election results as factors that contributed to the election chaos. Though the election was far from perfect, it was not illegal, he said. “The steps taken (by Broomfield) were a reasonable, if imperfect attempt to insure full extension of the franchise and prevention of voter fraud,” Melonakis said in his ruling.
Melonakis’ decision is the result of a challenge to the election brought by pro-fracking group Broomfield Balanced Energy Coalition and Tom Cave, a member of pro-fracking group It’s Our Broomfield, Too.
The Nov. 5 election has been mired in controversy since a five-year ban on fracking passed by just 20 votes. Melonakis’ decision means the ban remains in effect.
The ban, Question 300, was put on the ballot after grassroots group Our Broomfield collected enough signatures to have it appear. Our Broomfield has said more research must be done on the potential health impacts of fracking, and the five-year ban offers more time for that research to take place.
Plaintiffs in the election challenge case wanted Melonakis to declare that Question 300 did not pass because of numerous election flaws. BBEC now plans to pursue “legal and other means of preserving election integrity and constitutional rights in Broomfield,” according to a statement from BJ Nikkel, a spokeswoman for BBEC.
Broomfield, which wanted the judge to declare that the election results are valid, said the razor-thin outcome was the result of a close election, not flaws in the election. Bill Tuthill, Broomfield’s city and county attorney, said the judge’s ruling underscores Broomfield’s effort to run a fair election. “We said all along that there was no basis to overturn the results, and the court has agreed,” he said.
In the ruling, released Thursday evening, Melonakis said the election “was remarkably transparent,” even though the vote-counting process was described by several witnesses as “chaotic.”
Yet Nikkel said plaintiffs strongly disagree with the ruling. “Obviously, we are disappointed and disagree with the court’s findings. We have a very different point of view of what transparency is and we don’t believe that this election was transparent,” she said in a statement. “We had hoped that there would be consistency required of Broomfield election officials in counting ballots from county to county and within Broomfield itself.” During the trial, plaintiffs argued Broomfield mishandled at least 20 ballots that were either counted illegally or not counted when they should have been. Some of those ballots in question include military and overseas ballots and ballot envelopes that were delivered from Adams County and were not counted because Broomfield did not receive the envelopes before the deadline of 7 p.m. Nov. 5.
The judge found that many of Broomfield’s chaotic vote-counting troubles came from confusing new voter registration laws, which changed in May after House Bill 1303 was passed. … The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office released a scathing report in November that criticized Broomfield for “improperly counting ballots cast by ineligible electors; and improperly rejecting ballots cast by eligible electors.” [Emphasis added]