Recall Fraud: The Curious Case of Twila Sue Peach

UPDATE: Recall opponents tell us that Twila Sue Peach, whose name appears on the petition to recall Sen. John Morse but has in fact been dead for two years, was NOT invalidated by the Secretary of State's office's screening of signatures. What questions does that raise about the validation process? Developing…

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Above are three clips of video we were forwarded from yesterday's evening news in Colorado Springs, each detailing the claim by supporters of Sen. John Morse that a number of signatures submitted in support of his recall this September are fraudulent. As KOAA-TV reports:

[A Whole Lot of People for John Morse] gave a copy of the sheets in question to a member of the DA's office along with an affidavit claiming at least 28 names were forged.

One such name, Twila Peach, actually died two years ago. Her husband Ken says Twila was known by her middle name Sue, and he says she always signed her name Twila Sue.

"It upsets me that somebody would try to use her name for political gain," he said.

Another name is signed Allen Davidson, when the actual homeowner at the listed address named Alan Davidson.

"The least they could do is spell my name right," Davidson said. "That's sheer stupidity right there."

The recall campaign responds through a spokesperson, as reported by the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Jennifer Kerns, spokesperson for Basic Freedom Defense Fund, the organization leading the recall effort, said, "If there does turn out to be a case of fraud, we will join them in asking that this be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Even if it just involved just 50 signatures."

It's frankly tough to imagine the signature of a dead person, especially someone who has been dead for over two years, appearing on a recall petition in a way that doesn't involve fraud. Under the law as it exists today, there was always little chance of finding enough fraudulent or otherwise invalid signatures to throw out the recall: even if systematic fraud was proven, only the signatures proven to be individually invalid can be thrown out. A more valuable use for these signatures will be to hold this up to Senate District 11 voters as evidence of the illegitimacy of the whole recall effort–signing up dead people to the recall petition being just one particularly unseemly angle.

Like Secretary of State Scott Gessler says, one case of fraud can ruin everything…

32 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DavieDavie says:

    So let me get this straight — Gessler has been yelling "voter fraud" for 3 years, but has yet to have a single case prosecuted, and Morse's supporters found at least 5 sets of petitions with actual documented evidence of fraud in just a few weeks of looking?

    Another case of Republicans projecting their own behaviors on their opponents.

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      Yes indeedy!indecision

    • Hawkeye-X says:

      We need to get the Colorado Ethics Commission moving more heat against Gessler to quit. This is a new scandal for him because he failed to do due dilgence. I bet he didn't even bother to read the recall petition making sure it followed Colorado Constitution (which it does not).

       

      The fact that someone has to do Gessler's job needs to show that Gessler is a moron that cannot be trusted to faithfully execute his job, and should be billed for time wasted on this effort, including court costs and fees for doing his job, which could run into the thousands of wasted taxpayers dollars.

      People who continue to buy Republican lies should be ashamed right now.

       

  2. OrangeFreeOrangeFree says:

    The problem with this is that they would have a case to make if these signatures were fraudlently included, but deemed valid.

    You're going to get this type of thing with any petition, and if they're point to invalid signatures that were also deemed invalid, then they're just grasping at straws now. 

    Morse needs to stop looking like the guy who yells at the ump because he doesn't like how he's calling balls and strikes. If this recall is all a sham (and it is), it's time to start hitting the streets, because that's where this will be won or lost now.  

  3. BlueCat says:

    One can only imagine how hysterical Gessler will become over this. Two obviously fruadulent signatures on a recall petition in one small state seat district, more than the grand total of fruadulent votes he could prove were cast and counted in the entire state and those alleged fraudulent votes have him doggedly pursuing an urgent, hair on fire fix to protect our elections.  Am holding my breath waiting for Gessler to issue an even more impassioned alarm concerning this recall petition. It can't be long now.  Starting to black out….

  4. Craig says:

    This kind of stuff does happen in petition campaigns.  It's just that it's totally illegal.  I worked against a petition campaign years ago in Lakewood where the neighboring business owner hired people to circulate petitions to deny a rezoning.  We represented a big company with deep pockets.  We started calling people and asking them about what happened when they signed the petition.  One person described the woman who had asked her to sign.  When I looked at the circulator's signature, it was a man.  I started calling other folks on that petition, all had been approached by a woman, clearly not the man who signed the petition as circulator.  I started calling other petition signatories and asking about their circulator and found many this way and vice versa.  I pointed all this out to the Lakewood City Clerk in a hearing and then got the petition circulator on the stand.  And being young and stupid, I brought this all to his attention and then asked, so what did you do, just throw them all in a stack and then sign at the end.  Stupid question, because of course I didn't know the answer.  But I'll be damned if he didn't admit that this was exactly what had happened.  The City Clerk through out all the petitions due to pervasive fraud.  It's amazing what folks will do to subvert the petition process.  From my point of view, the only way to stop this is for Coloradoans to take matters into their own hands and defeat every damn referendum that has paid circulators until people who want to do this stuff just stop doing it.  I'm wondering if the Morse people did this kind of thorough review of signatures?  If not, they probably missed an opportunity.

  5. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    Hey , ya'll…whats up with Davie? Has he lost his mind? wink

  6. Albert J. Nock says:

    Hey both way Pols, make up your mind….

    Like Secretary of State Scott Gessler says, one case of fraud can ruin everything… -

    Let me help, a fake signature does not equal a vote.  The vote is much more powerful, a petition simply gives voters more options…

    • exlurker19 says:

      So it's okay to fake a petition signature (if you're a Republican), but not a vote (if you're a Democrat). 

      Let me help you out, Nocklehead, being a Republican doesn't cover all sins.

    • AristotleAristotle says:

      Actually, that's not true anymore. The initiative process has been completely taken over by special interests, who have found that they can circumvent the legislature and get terrible bills passed directly by the people. All they have to do is get paid signature gatherers, who are under zero obligation to represent their petitions honestly, and then run a well funded campaign. Recalls are just the next way they intend to get their way.

      So how does a signature equal a vote? Since the hard part is getting the ballot or recall petition on the ballot, the signature is now more important than the vote. So you are technically correct, but as usual you are wrong about the nature of that inequality.

      The important thing here is that the recall is apparently so unpopular that the gatherers have resorted to outright fraud, and Scott Gessler, as a key member of the Coup de GOP here in Colorado, is exposing the truth of his partisanship and incompetence to the world. The question now is, can anything be done about that?

    • Hawkeye-X says:

      And your pal Gessler failed to do his due dilgence, and he failed to do his job.

      That very fact alone should force Gessler's resignation. And the rest of his cronies.

      I would also check to see if Nathan Sproul's dirty hand was in it. It probably was.

       

    • Craig says:

      Really, that's just inane, even for you.  You know what I tell my brothers when they say stuff like that?  Is that the type of logic you want to teach your children?  Shuts them up every time.  Especially when I say it to their kids.

      Let's compare, second degree murder does not equal first degree murder.  There, I think I've got the hand of it.  I guess I learned something all those years I wasted being a Republican.

  7. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    I'm assuming Gessler did not personally check the signatures but instead it was non-political employees in the SOS office. So what's going on there? Have they become political? Or are they just incompetent?

    if Gessler has made them political, go after him hard for that. If they're incompetent, you can call out Gessler for being a lousy manager, but that's not as big a deal politically.

    • Early WormEarly Worm says:

      How are dead people removed from the voting rolls?  Is it poossible that Ms. Peach is still on the voting rolls? There was clearly fraud, and the SOS office dropped the ball, but where is the weak link?

       

      • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

        Early,

        As someone who has registered many voters, and worked on several campaigns, I know that there are several feedback loops to remove a deceased voter from the rolls.

        When next of kin files a death certificate, it goes to the DMV and IRS, social security, medicare,any other agency which needs to know. Election county clerks have access to all of these databases, but may or may not run checks to remove people. Human beings + computers = potential for stuff gets lost or missed.

        Another feedback loop, probably more reliable, is through the campaigns which make direct voter contact.  When a campaign worker contacts a voter, who says, "My spouse has died, stop ****ing calling asking for him/her," the campaign checks a "deceased' box in the voter profile.

        County Clerks get this feedback, as well, and have programs which will check this information against their other databases.

        So it's not too surprising to me that Twila Sue's passing went unremarked by the Secretary of State voter database on the initial check of signatures. But on the review, they should have checked more thoroughly and found it.

        And, whomever signed her name onto the recall petition surely knew what they were doing.

  8. DaftPunkDaftPunk says:

    I believe the SOS doesn't check all signatures, just a sample, and then applies that rate of invalid signatures to the petition as a whole.  

    There's nothing here to suggest that this signature was verified, or even examined during that process.

    Fraud by the petitioners, yes.  Incompetence by the SOS' office, no.

    The real political story here is that the time window for challenging signatures is woefully small, and the logistical requirements (copying, etc.) are too onerous for a succesful challenge.  Absent these challenges, Personhood 2 likely wouldn't have made the ballot.

    The laws should be changed.  Lois Court would be the kind of good government civics egghead (and I mean that in the nice way) to run a bill on this topic.

    • Craig says:

      With the time requirements for voting and absentee ballots, it's just nearly impossible to give any time any more.  The commenter is correct that they check only a sample of signatures, so it is quite possible that this one was never checked.  Frankly, it's not something that candidates or opposition committees do very well.  I don't think it's because of the time factor, I think it's that they just don't know what do to and how devious and illegal petition passers can be.  (See my comments above.)  In the one I challenged (which was before computer databases), it was me and a paralegal and about 5,000 signatures and 15 days.  It's just not that hard.

       

      The problem is that it takes a combination of the old and new techniques.  It takes money and computer stuff, but it also takes phone banks and walking door to door and asking silly questions and knowing that the other side will stoop to anything to get done what they want because, the ends always justify any means.

       

      Sorry to be such an old coot, but that's the truth of it.

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