UPDATE: 7NEWS, the blowback begins:
The American Civil Liberties Union says it is being contacted by U.S citizens who received letters from Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler questioning their right to vote.
The ACLU’s Colorado branch said Tuesday the voters are among the nearly 4,000 people who Gessler sent letters to earlier this month asking them to voluntarily withdraw their registration or prove their citizenship…
AP’s Ivan Moreno reports via CBS4:
Democrats and independent voters got 86 percent of the requests to withdraw from voting rolls if they’re not citizens as part of an initiative from Colorado’s Republican Secretary of State, The Associated Press learned Monday.
The breakdown renewed skepticism that Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler has a political motivation in sending the letters. His office provided the figures to the AP. Gessler has repeatedly denied claims that party registration plays a factor in his efforts to make sure ineligible voters are not on rolls.
Gessler spokesman Rich Coolidge said officials did not look at party registration when they mailed the letters, and that they only compiled the information because of a media request.
He said Gessler’s office is committed to ensure that only eligible voters cast ballots. He said about skeptics, “We’re not going to respond to the political noise around this issue.”
Democrats are angrily pointing to the fact that less than 13% of Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s nearly 4,000 “questionable” registered voters are Republicans. Gessler’s spokesman Rich Coolidge insists in response that party affiliation wasn’t factored at all when compiling this list, though–and to be honest, we see no reason to dispute that assertion.
Because it really doesn’t matter.
It was a foregone conclusion based on a wealth of empirical facts, and the ethnic breakdown of voter registrations in Colorado that the overwhelming majority of these voters with citizenship “questions” would be Democrats or unaffiliated. Remember, the rate of regular naturalization of new citizens in Colorado is more than enough to account for this “discrepancy”–as Gessler himself admits, the number of actual problem registrations is believed to be a small fraction of the 4,000 who got letters at most. But the fact is, Gessler didn’t “target” one party more than another because he didn’t have to–the partisan effects of this campaign are self-evident.
At this point, everybody has to wait for Gessler to announce the results. Democrats are right to question him, but they need to do it for the right reasons and avoid credibility pitfalls along the way. Without proper context, Gessler’s actions will be positively received by a number of voters–of all parties. The problem comes when he tries to justify such a large expenditure of time and effort to “root out” what will in all likelihood be a tiny fraction of the 4,000 voters who were sent a letter. How many ballots are chewed up in reading machines, miscounted, left behind at the polling place, otherwise lost or delayed in counting, in every election?
Until Gessler can justify his devotion to ferreting out a tiny number of “illegal voters,” while other problems in any election can produce a greater error rate, the whole effort is politically dubious.
And it opens Republicans to more criticism than these few voters are worth to either side.