Behind the website paywall, and in today’s Grand Junction Sentinel, is an article worth paying for–that said, we wish more people would see it than likely will behind a paywall. One of the fiercest critics of repeated assertions by Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler that many, perhaps thousands, of noncitizens may have voted in Colorado elections in 2010, is in fact a fellow Republican–Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner. In a press release from Reiner at the same time Gessler testified before Congress about this “problem,” Reiner said flatly:
We take this allegation very seriously, Mesa County will follow up and attempt to obtain the data Secretary Gessler is basing his findings on. I immediately requested a list of said voters. I have been initially denied my request by the Secretary of State’s office.
It seems premature to make this kind of statement without having fully investigated the issue. It would take the involvement of County Clerks to review voter records and contact our voters to determine whether or not they have become citizens and are or are not properly registered.
The issue of whether or not noncitizens in Colorado later became citizens in the timeframe in question here, as federal immigration records indicate some 32,000 did in Colorado, is critical to determining if Gessler has identified an actual problem, or is simply attempting to manufacture one to justify purging the voter rolls. Gessler claimed he needed additional legislatively-clarified authority to sort it out, which is how he justifies throwing around numbers ranging from over ten thousand to barely a hundred “illegal voters”–and even that hundred he supposedly can’t be 100% sure about. Like Clerk Reiner says above, that kind of detailed evaluation of records, and contacts for verification purposes, is more properly the role of the county clerks.
But Gessler hasn’t even let them see the data, let alone help.
Well, in today’s story by Sentinel reporter Charles Ashby, Reiner says that Gessler has not provided a single shred of evidence that any of these people are improperly registered to vote–not the 11,000, not even the 106 Gessler says he is “nearly certain” there is a problem with. Reiner says she asked Gessler again about a week ago to turn over the information so she could begin to verify their status, and Gessler refused. Reiner, quoted by Ashby, has heard enough:
“I do not believe in what he’s claiming is true,” she said. [Pols emphasis] “I believe that there’s people who might accidentally get registered, but they won’t vote. I have no knowledge of anyone who is on our voter rolls who’s there illegally.”
Folks, if this is what the Republican county clerks think, you can imagine how much credibility Gessler actually has on this issue. Somewhere between “none” and a strong suspicion of purposeful mendacity. We think the more that voters of all political persuasions understand about the flimsy case Gessler is basing these very serious allegations on, the worse this will look for Republicans in general: especially those who backed his related legislation this year. After all, nobody likes being terrorized without cause–or worse, with a very nasty ulterior motive.