SAGUACHE — During a meeting of Republican Party members Thursday, Oct. 10, those in attendance discussed the issue of Saguache County Commissioner Jason Anderson’s residency in Salida with some claiming Anderson has lived in Chaffee County now for several months.
Party members speaking on the matter noted that his home appears to be empty and is now up for sale. One individual asserted Anderson has been using a county vehicle for his Salida commute and that his personal vehicle was left in the courthouse parking lot for a week at one point.
A county courthouse source reported Anderson is registered to vote in Saguache County and recently renewed his voter registration automatically while updating his motor vehicle registration. According to information available on the internet, Anderson’s wife works from an office in Salida two days a week.
During the Oct. 1 commissioner’s meeting, Robert Tafoya of Moffat asked Anderson if the rumor is true that he has moved to Salida. According to BOCC draft minutes from the Oct. 1 meeting, Commissioner Anderson stated he lives on Spanish Creek (in the Baca Grande subdivision), has since 1996, and where he educates his children is nobody’s business but his own.
While some believe that if Anderson does live in Chaffee County he could be violating the Constitution and state statutes, the language of these laws is not entirely clear.
Colorado Constitution. Art. XIV, Section 10, ELECTOR ONLY ELIGIBLE TO COUNTY OFFICE reads: “No person shall be eligible to any county office unless he shall be a qualified elector; nor unless he shall have resided in the county one year preceding his election.”
The only issue with this law might be that Anderson’s eligibility for office is dependent on his actual ability to vote in Saguache County. According to the Colorado Secretary of State’s website, “The term ‘residence’ generally means the principal or primary home or place in which a person lives. A ‘residence’ is a permanent building or part of a building and may include a house, apartment, condominium, room in a house, or mobile home” (https://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/vote/VoterHome.htm).
Therefore, if Anderson is no longer living in his residence, or some other address within his district in the county, he could not be considered a county resident. Having registered as a county voter, if this occurred after his move, could then be seen as problematic.
According to the SoS site, “It is unlawful for any person to procure a false voter registration. To do so is considered a Class 5 Felony, resulting in either a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment in the county jail for up to 18 months, or both.” (See Sections 1-13-203 and 1-13-704.5 of the Colorado Revised Statutes for the full description of the law and corresponding penalties.)
It is possible Anderson did not realize his voter registration would update automatically with the renewal of his driver’s license. Colorado Revised Statute 1-4-205 states: “No person shall be a county commissioner unless that person is a registered elector.” The questions are, is Anderson a validly registered elector? And does this apply only if he is running for election, or throughout the entire course of his term?
Possible actions for removal
SoS election officials advised that if citizens are concerned about Anderson’s residency, they should approach the County Attorney (Ben Gibbons) as a group or file a complaint in Saguache District Court, to be settled by a judge.
They also could file a complaint with the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission (CIEC), although this would take some time and effort, since they would need to investigate the matter on their own. To file a complaint with CIEC, go to https://www.Colorado.gov/pacific/iec/faq-complaints
Jason Anderson’s term of office ends in January 2021.