Forty years ago this week: Republican voters who had filed a complaint with the Federal District Court to have congressional redistribution settled by Nov. 10 were seeking “expedited consideration” of their complaint, said Colorado attorney Ted Halaby GOP.
Halaby said at least 60 days were needed for “the prior approval of any plan by the US Department of Justice to ensure compliance with voting rights law.” The complaint had been filed by a voter from each of the five congressional districts and named Governor Dick Lamm, Attorney General JD McFarlane and Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan as defendants.
The lawsuit called for a three-judge panel to be convened, the current congressional districts declared unconstitutional, and the defendants’ barring from allowing the 1982 primary and general elections until a redistribution plan was determined.
Halaby said if the legislature and Governor Lamm agree on a redistribution plan before the November 10 deadline, the court could eventually dismiss the lawsuit.
“Our interest is to have a redistribution plan in time for an orderly electoral process,” said Halaby.
Democratic Party President Ann Bormolini said she was not surprised by the costume, but “the timing surprised me”.
Democratic Party vice-chairman Floyd Ciruli agreed with Bormolini and added that it was not clear why Republicans chose the November 10 deadline.
âI’m not sure the compromise is over,â Ciruli said. âI don’t think there is a great urgency for the courts to settle the matter. Moreover, not much in federal court evolves quickly. Legal action will push lawmakers to compromise on redistribution. The legislature, not the courts, is the place to solve the problem. “
Bormolini said Colorado statesman that the Republicans were pushing for a court decision, because every Republican-dominated plan had divided the three largest Democratic counties: Denver, Pueblo and Boulder, while the Republican strongholds of El Paso, Weld and Larimer had all remained intact.
Bormolini said Democrats would like to see “an honest plan” with two Republican districts, two Democrats and two swing.
âGov. Lamm expressed a number of compromise positions, âsaid Bormolini. “But Republicans argue that no plan seems to work for Lamm.”
Halaby argued that each Republican plan had met all constitutional criteria and that there was no way not to divide large urban centers while maintaining an acceptable mathematical balance of districts.
âEven the mayor of Denver, William McNichols,â said Halaby, âhas expressed interest in two powerful districts in Denver. So if the legislature cannot do it, we prefer the courts. Courts will consider matters objectively, without partisanship. But, unfortunately, one cannot foresee a lawsuit and the court could formulate its own plan. “
Redistribution cases were pending in several states, but Colorado was the first state to go to court before a redistribution bill was passed.
In other news: in the 1980 election, the Denver County Republican Party contracted with Al Seidenfeld to print sample ballots. Seidenfeld in turn contracted out the work to a printing company which, more than a year later, threatened legal action if they were not paid, saying they still owed a fairly large sum for the work.
The debt stood at nearly $ 10,000, but Seidenfeld only confirmed that Statesman that he actually had an unpaid debt. But he didn’t want to name who he owed the money to.
âI am working on the issue with Republican Denver County President Bill Willoughby,â Seidenfeld said.
Statesman asked Willoughby what arrangements he had made with Seidenfeld to write off the debt, but reporters were told, âIt’s none of your business.
Rachael Wright is the author of the Captain Savva Mystery series, a graduate in political science and history from Colorado Mesa University, and a contributor to Colorado Politics and The Gazette.