Inside Scott Gessler’s Epic Fail

As the story unfolded of Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s latest attempt to uncover what he has consistently claimed are “thousands” of illegally registered noncitizen voters on the state’s rolls–just the latest iteration of a quest that has dominated Gessler’s agenda for over a year and a half now–we’ve been very careful to not characterize what he was doing as a “major threat” to Colorado’s elections. We’ve warned Democrats to be careful not to make sweeping statements about Gessler’s actions, and to wait for the results before passing judgment.

And as it turns out, we were right. If it was ever his goal, Gessler surely hasn’t succeeded in effectively suppressing the vote, or even the secondary goal of frightening conservative voters out of complacence by presenting evidence of a threat to election integrity.

Gessler hasn’t succeeded at any of those alleged objectives. What he has done is make a colossal fool of himself, proving that all these months of fixation on rooting out “illegal voters” has been a waste of time–while helping solidify opposition from Hispanic voters against the GOP ahead of a critical presidential election. AP’s Ivan Moreno via the Huffington Post:

Sixteen of nearly 4,000 Colorado registered voters who received letters questioning their citizenship have voluntarily withdrawn from voting rolls, state election officials said Thursday.

The figures released by Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler drew criticism that the small number casts further doubt on the merits of Gessler’s investigation and contention that non-citizens are on voter lists and casting ballots…

His office also said 177 of 1,400 names checked through a federal immigration database are pending verification of citizenship. Election officials want to hold hearings to challenge those whose citizenship is still in doubt.

Gessler’s office said that means one out of eight is “trending as non-citizens.”

The statement brought a sharp rebuke from Mark Grueskin, an attorney who represents Democrats on election issues.

“That’s a ridiculous statement. You either are or you aren’t a citizen. You can’t trend that way,” Grueskin said. “More importantly, the secretary still can’t say how many, if any, non-citizens actually voted in Colorado elections. He has a choice: Come up with facts he can defend in court, or end this suspicion-laden inquiry.” [Pols emphasis]

First of all, there is absolutely no question that the lack of results from this latest action, coming after years of Gessler spreading suspicions of a major problem without hard evidence, marks a catastrophic loss of credibility for the most openly partisan Secretary of State in Colorado history. To have only sixteen noncitizens* voluntarily remove themselves from the rolls in response to nearly 4,000 letters, none of whom as of this writing are alleged to have actually voted, is an unjustifiably tiny result relative to the huge controversy of challenging all of these voters.

Gessler’s checks against the Homeland Security immigrant registration database revealed that, as we have argued from the beginning, the overwhelming majority of those checked had indeed become citizens during the intervening period–just as thousands of Colorado residents become citizens each year. This database required more data than Gessler had in many cases, so only about 1,400 were checked against it. But the results clearly indicate that that nearly all of these 4,000 letters challenging citizenship were sent to perfectly legal U.S. citizens and rightly registered voters. Even worse, Gessler could have eliminated many of these challenge letters before they were ever sent, simply by waiting to get access to this federal database.

Instead, Gessler forged ahead with his dragnet letters. And instead of uncovering an actual threat to election integrity, for thousands of new U.S. citizens, he became the threat. The damaging media coverage that Gessler’s actions have received has energized and mobilized far more Democratic voters–Hispanic and otherwise–than this was ever worth to Republicans in terms of either base messaging or actual vote suppression. As we have consistently believed would be the case, after all these months of agitation and scare tactics, Gessler has uncovered a “problem” much smaller than so many other factors that routinely and uncontroversially affect election results. A tiny fraction, just as one example, of the thousands of ballots Gessler himself unsuccessfully tried to stop from going out to legal, registered “inactive failed to vote” voters.

If there is an enemy of free and fair elections in Colorado, Gessler has met it. And it is himself.

Fortunately, he doesn’t appear to be very good at it.

16 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. davebarnesdavebarnes says:

    The HuffPo quote is: “Sixteen of nearly 4,000 Colorado registered voters who received letters questioning their citizenship have voluntarily withdrawn from voting rolls”

    Yet, ColoradoPols wrote: “To have only sixteen noncitizens voluntarily remove themselves from the rolls.”

    How do we know that everyone of the 16 is an alien?

    What is some citizens became frightened and withdrew?

    • Colorado PolsColorado Pols says:

      There is that possibility, perhaps a bit remote but you’re right to note it.

      Our point is more about how there were only sixteen of them, and none are alleged to have actually voted as of this writing.

      • BlueCat says:

        as a result of limited English and miscommunication with sometimes less than helpful clerks?  It would be interesting to see if any of the 16 have actually voted. After all, we know that no matter how many times Mickey Mouse has registered, Mickey has never voted.  The false registrations were to pad collectors’ counts, not to create fraudulent votes.

        So far one case of true fraudulent voting has turned up in Florida. A Canadian citizen ( think he was born in Austria) used fake citizenship papers to buy a gun and also voted in two elections. That’s Florida’s.  Where’s Gessler’s?  

  2. MADCO says:

    And that a terrible Democrat candidate who never should have won, did, in fact, appear to win.

    “If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women.

    “It also makes the point, it is kind of embarrassing, the Democratic Party ought to be hanging its head in shame, that it has so much difficulty getting men to vote for it. I mean, you do see it’s the party of women and ‘We’ll pay for health care and tuition and day care – and here, what else can we give you, soccer moms?’”

    A. Coulter

    What Gessler should target is women. problem solved.

  3. parsingreality says:

    My great-grandfather immigrated from Germany late 19th Century.  WWI broke out, and for whatever reason lost to the fog of time, he found out that he wasn’t a citizen.  He thought that with the immigration came citizenship.  He was horrified and quickly as he could, became naturalized.

    I wouldn’t doubt that some few non-citizens have registered under a similar misbelief, although I don’t know how they could anytime in the last decade.  No passport, birth certificate, or naturalization papers.  But once, all you had to do was state that you are a citizen.

    Like great granddad.

    • BlueCat says:

      would think just coming here makes citizenship automatic.  However large groups became citizens by act of congress.  My grandmother and her siblings in the 20s were part of a mass made citizens in that way but my grandfather, also in the 20s, had to go through the process, take the test etc.  Not sure what determined who got in the easy way and who didn’t.  

  4. GalapagoLarryGalapagoLarry says:

    could they, at least, send a good one? This guy has been a joke since day one.

  5. RavenDawg says:

    I’m disgusted by Mr. Gessler but I’m a Democrat and I pay attention.  I’m guessing to a good number of Repubs what he is doing is entirely appropriate vigilance.

    My question is, what metric can Pols document to show that Gessler has really “energized and motivated” far more voters than it was worth to Repubs?  And in particular, has anyone attempted, or been able to show, a measurable effect of Gessler and his policies on attitudes and likely party preference of low information or minority voters?  Or alternately, are there measurements that Gessler’s actions have discouraged likely voters?

    Since I know Pols is always fair and balanced in their coverage, they must have some evidence to cite?  

    • JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

      I don’t think it’s far out to suggest this has pissed off more than 16 Democrats. I personally know more than 16 Democrats who are pissed off.

    • Gray in Mountains says:

      and I would say that no, Gessler’s behavior is largely unknown so it has not motivated voters. What he has done is absolutely despicable and most are unaware of anything.

      • The realistThe realist says:

        contacting voters door-to-door for one campaign or another, alerting “inactive” voters to the fact that they need to contact their county clerk to be sure they can receive their “permanent” mailed ballot.  So hundreds, thousands of Colorado voters are being informed of what Gessler has done.  

        • Gray in Mountains says:

          has pretty active voter registration and similar campaigns to help folks be confident of their registration and right to vote. I think Gessler has more games coming, likely involving RNC poll watchers/intimidators. I think the last 2 weeks there needs to be a campaign to get folks to demand provisional ballots when challenged

          • gaf says:

            Every thing from now through the last 2 weeks needs to be devoted to getting people to vote on regular ballots. A provisional ballot is the last, emergency, option, and it is important people know of that option. But a regular ballot means any problem has been solved and the vote will count. A provisional ballot means that a problem may still prevent that vote from counting.

      • GalapagoLarryGalapagoLarry says:

        that the folks behind the doors that I knock on are let in on what dangerous asshat party hack Gessler is, and that he’s up for reelection (defeat) in a couple of years. They’ll be reminded, also, in two years.

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