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Judge Upholds Colorado City’s Fracking Ban

A narrowly passed ballot measure last November banning the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the Colorado city of Broomfield was upheld by a state district court ruling last Thursday.

After a delayed vote count, the measure was declared passed by 20 votes last November (see Shale Daily, Nov. 18, 2013).

Thursday's ruling was in response to a court challenge by groups opposing the fracking ban, including the Broomfield Balanced Energy Coalition and a member of the "It's Our Broomfield, Too" group. A spokesperson for the coalition expressed disappointment at the court ruling, but told local news media no decision has been made yet on whether to launch an appeal.

Seventeenth Judicial District Judge Chris Melonakis concluded that Broomfield election officials "acted in good faith," while acknowledging that confusing new voter residency requirements and the narrow passage margin out of 20,000 votes casts contributed to what he called a chaotic election process. A mandatory recount of the voting followed the election night results.

Melonakis decided that the voting process had problems but was not illegal. The election results included some military and overseas ballots, along with complaints from election monitors that they were not given adequate access to the vote-count process.

"The steps taken [in Broomfield] were a reasonable, if imperfect, attempt to insure full extension of the franchise and prevention of voter fraud," Melonakis said in his ruling. Broomfield City/County Attorney Bill Tuthill told local news media that the judge's ruling "validated" the city's attempt to run a fair election.

Last November, the north Denver suburb of about 56,000 residents joined Boulder, Fort Collins and Lafayette in supporting anti-fracking forces that have grown more active in the state (see Shale Daily, Nov. 14, 2013).

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