Attorney general candidate sues the secretary of state over rejected voter signatures

Brad Levin debated on criminal justice and environmental issues during a debate at the Community College of Denver on March 15. Photo by John Herrick

This story was updated on May 3 after a judge dismissed the lawsuit. 

Brad Levin, a Democratic candidate for attorney general, saw about half the signatures he gathered to petition onto the primary ballot rejected by the secretary of state, effectively booting him from what is expected to be a contentious primary battle.

But now, the commercial litigation attorney from Denver is suing the secretary of state in an effort to recoup some of those lost signatures. He filed a lawsuit Denver District Court on Tuesday, April 24. 

“At the end of the process, I intend to be on the ballot,” Levin told The Colorado Independent.

The Denver District Court dismissed two of Levin’s lawsuits on Wednesday, May 3. He then apealed to the Colorado Supreme Court and asked for an injunction. 

The secretary of state’s office announced on in late April that Levin was out of the race after about 7,017 of his 15,996 voter signatures were rejected, leaving him short of the 1,500 signatures needed in five of the state’s seven congressional districts.

Levin says about 3,400 of those signatures were tossed out because of scanning errors or because the secretary of state’s office did not take the required steps to verify them. In some cases, he said, signatures were rejected for no apparent reason at all.

“It’s about ensuring that the [election] statute that we do have is being implemented in a fair manner,” Levin said.

Lynn Bartels, a spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office, said Levin used voters who are unaffiliated to help gather signatures and collected signatures from unaffiliated voters. Because he is a Democrat, Bartels said, state law requires he used Democratic circulators and gather signatures from Democratic voters.

Levin is also challenging that particular Colorado law, arguing that it is unconstitutional. That lawsuit, similar to one that was filed on April 10 and later dismissed, was filed with the Denver District Court on Tuesday.

The Denver District Court ordered the state to delay ballot certification until after a court hearing to decide whether Levin should make it on the primary ballot.

Already on the primary ballot are Joe Salazar, a state representative from Thornton, and Phil Weiser, a former University of Colorado law school dean, both of whom made it through the state assembly process earlier this month.

Amy Padden, a former state and federal prosecutor from Denver, suspended her campaign on Monday after failing to collect enough signatures or enough votes from delegates at the state assembly.

A recent poll showed Salazar with an early lead over Weiser among voters. But delegates gave Weiser the top spot on the primary ballot at the state assembly; he earned 53 percent of the vote to Salazar’s 37 percent. As of Jan. 15, the most recent state filing available, Weiser had about $897,715 in his campaign coffers, compared to Salazar’s $8,921.

George Brauchler, a district attorney for the 18th Judicial District, is the Republican candidate for attorney general.

Brad Levin debated with other Democratic attorney general candidates during a debate at the Community College of Denver on March 15. Photo by John Herrick