September 10 marks Colorado's first recall election at the state level, and this year the petition signatures for at least one of the recalled legislators were gathered using a relatively new approach: smartphones and the state's online voter registration data.
It was first reported by The Denver Post that Victor Head -- a 28-year-old Republican plumber from Pueblo -- used smartphones, tablets and laptops to confirm that the signatures he and organizers were collecting were registered voters in real time. Using the Secretary of State's website, they were able to get the required amount of signatures to recall state Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) over her votes on this year's gun bills with only 6 percent of those signatures deemed invalid.
"What we've seen here is really symptomatic of a broader trend," political analyst Eric Anderson told The Denver Post. "Voter data has always been available to the public, but now with the technology it can be accessed on the spot and in real time. In this case, it's been used effectively in organizing."
In Colorado Springs, petitions to recall Democratic Senate President John Morse were gathered in gun shops, libraries an grocery stores. But Morse's recall organizers didn't check voter registration data available online, and 37 percent of the signatures were deemed invalid.
Go Vote Colorado allows voters to verify their registration status within seconds, making it an understandably attractive tool for petitioners.
Morse's support group, A Whole Lot of People for John Morse, last week demanded a criminal investigation into the signatures collected against him, alleging that some of the people who signed live outside of Senate District 11 and that some may have even been forged.
Both of the recall efforts are still moving forward however, after the Colorado Secretary of State's Office and a Denver judge ruled that enough collected signatures were valid.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 17 states including Colorado have passed legislation or currently offer paperless, online voter registration as of 2013.
“Recalls are very disruptive of the whole process -- generally odd-numbered years are spent governing and even-numbered years are spent politicking,” Morse told Bloomberg News. “If we can’t defeat this recall effort, then special moneyed interests will be able to use it as a weapon in 19 different states.”