(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Victor Head, "Pueblo Plumber", recall proponent, and County Clerk candidate, has been lying again, and digging through trash for ballots to make the case that only he can prevent election fraud.
HB1128 , Reduce Voter Identity Theft
In the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee of the Colorado legislature, on February 12, Head testified on behalf of HB1128, a thinly-disguised "voter ID" bill. Szabo and Harvey were the sponsors. The bill, thankfully, is parked in the State committee, and unlikely to come out of it.
The facts were not with this bill. There is not, and never has been, a problem of "voter identity theft" in Colorado. Over the last 10 years, there have been no instances of someone voting under an assumed name. Yet, Head, with an eye on the Clerk position supervising elections in Pueblo, wants voters to believe that he has expertise in this area, and will help protect us from the dreaded (but nonexistent) problem of voter identity theft.
In order to create a problem only he can solve, Victor Head lied again in HB1128 hearing testimony. He told Representative Salazar that signature cards weren't used in Pueblo County when Pueblans began voting in the Recall election. This is demonstrably not true.
According to County Clerk, Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz, "We have a signature card for everyone who voted in the recall election, and would be glad to show them to him." The distinctive yellow election cards (example at right) were mailed out to every voter. This made the voting process simpler and more efficient in the turbulent recall elections of November 2013. Like utility bills, the yellow voter cards were upheld by Judge MacGeyhey to be a valid form of voter identification. However, HB1128 would have eliminated all but state issued photo ID.
Colorado is one of the states which does not require photo ID.
The Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights map, at left, shows which states have voter ID laws.
The legislators on the State, Military, and Veteran's Affairs Committee did not see a necessity for photo ID in Colorado, and HB1128 was postponed indefinitely on February 12, 2014.
HB1164 – Local Government Elections Bill
Our legislators then considered the next election bill, HB1164, "concerning nonpartisan county elections not coordinated by a County clerk and recorder."
HB1164, sponsored by Hullinghorst and Ulibarri, created a
"Colorado Local Government Election Code” for the conduct of such elections by special districts, harmonizing residency requirements for voter registration, modifying the "Colorado Municipal Election code of 1965",and clarifying when elections are coordinated by county clerk and recorders.
Sounds pretty boring and harmless, right? The intent of the bill was to make sure that those off-year municipal and "special district" elections are conducted according to the same set of rules across Colorado. It also standardized best practices for implementing HB1303-, the Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act , specifically, mail in ballots, same-day voter registration, shortened residency requirements from 30 days to 22 days, so that every county has the same deadlines.
However, Marilyn Marks, of the Citizen Center, who has never met a high-turnout election she liked, Scott Gessler, Secretary of State and known HB1303-skeptic, and Jon Caldara, Independence Institute Head and famous voting fraudster, were predictably opposed to the "harmonizing residency requirements for voter registration" and same day voter registration parts of the bill.
Marks' Citizen Center organization declared that HB1164 will create "drive-by voters". Not much improvement from the last right wing hysteria about "gypsy" voters , "drive-by" voters sounds so gangsterish, so urban, so…you get the connotation Marks was aiming for.
Scott Gessler initially supported HB1164, but withdrew his support on the last reading of the bill. Shocking. Victor Head testified that the bill would, hypothetically, create openings for fraud and election problems.
After days of debate, HB1164 passed its third reading in the Senate, and was signed by Governor Hickenlooper on February 18, in time for local election clerks to prepare for May elections. For an excellent summary of how HB14-1164 will affect your specific city or town election, see the Colorado Municipal League page here.
As Rep. Hullinghorst said in the press release about HB1164,
“Colorado has a safe, secure elections system. Voter fraud is rare, but we will continue to work this year to pass laws that ensure every eligible voter has the right to vote while not tolerating anyone who tries to game the system."
SB 14-141, Suspend Until 2016 House Bill 13-1303 Provisions
Mr. Head's third and final (so far) attempt to establish his election supervising expertise and smack down Colorado voter's rights came in his testimony on SB14-141. This latest assault on 13-1303, the Voter Access and Modernized Elections law, would have called a "time-out" on implementing 1303 for two years. If implemented, 14-141 would have thrown elections across the state into uncertainty and chaos, resulting in a hodgepodge of polling place, mail ballot elections, conflicting deadlines and voter registration guidelines.
Naturally, this means that Mr. Head must save us all from hypothetical voter fraud, by demonstrating how to (what else?) vote fraudulently. To make his point, Mr. Head actually dug through the trash at a Post Office, retrieved six discarded ballots, brought them to the SB14-141 hearing testimony, and opened one in the hearing. Head's testimony can be heard at 3:47 in this audio recording of session testimony on February 24, 2014. His point was that a potential vote forger could obtain a ballot the same way he did, mark an X on the voter signature line, forge a fraudulent witness signature, and Voila! a fool-proof fraudulent vote, which would not go through a signature check process.
Under questioning by Senator Herpin, Mr. Head said:
Senator Herpin (at 3:50:20): Where did you find those? Where'd you find a trash can….how did you find those?
VH at 3:50:28 These were at the post office. I went to check my my PO box, and saw quite a few of them laying in there. That's the other interesting part about this, is if you were really intent on finding these…I happened across these, and was like, "There's ballots in the trash can, that's kind of crazy. Grabbed em for future reference,to the post office, to check , and there they were in the trash can. Um, if you were to harvest them, so to speak, get out, on the day they go out…I picked these up, days afterwards, after they had been mailed initially. If you were to really harvest them, I don't know how many more you could get. I didn't try very hard, I kind of happened across these. "
I looked into whether Mr. Head had in fact, violated Federal Postal regulations by taking ballots out of a Post Office.
The relevant statute is 18 USC Section 1702. This statute is part of Chapter 83 of Title 18 of the federal code, which is concerned with crimes involving the U.S. Postal Service. This section is called Obstruction of Correspondence.
Under this statute it is only illegal to open mail addressed to someone else if you have taken it from the custody of the Postal Service. That means it is a crime to take a letter, package, postcard, or other item of mail from a Post Office, a mailbox of any kind, or from a postal carrier before the mail has been delivered, if you intend to prevent the mail from being delivered, pry into it, embezzle money, or destroy the mail. The statute is essentially about stealing mail from the Post Office.
So Mr. Head apparently commited no crime by taking other people's unclaimed ballots out of a Post Office, because they had been delivered, were unclaimed, and in the trash. However, he did clearly demonstrate that he is unfit for the office for which he is running, that of County Election Clerk. A County Election Clerk works to keep the voter database up to date, including verifying voter changes of address. The main mechanism used to update addresses is via voters logging on to the Secretary of State website to change an address, or by submitting a paper registration form.
A secondary mechanism to make the database more accurate is the return of undeliverable mail to the election office. By taking other people's ballots, and not returning them to the election office to update the addresses, and instead using the ballots to try to make a political point, Mr. Head demonstrated that he is not truly interested in improving elections. Additionally, had he actually forged a voter's signature, using the method that he painstakingly demonstrated for the Committee, he would have committed felony election fraud. It's hard to see how this makes him a great candidate for County Clerk. Generally, digging through trash for other people's discarded ballots is frowned on for that office.
There are simple fixes for the loose ballot problem, (not requiring disenfranchisement of thousands of Colorado voters). One would be to implement procedures to destroy or return discarded ballots from post office boxes and apartment mail centers. Post Offices in Pueblo are implementing such procedures.
Colorado's election system is not perfect, but it is a model for best election practices around the country, according to the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. There are reasons that Colorado has had historically high voter turnout, (71% in 2012). Our Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act, sponsored by Senator Giron, is model legislation for other states interested in increasing voter participation.
Mail ballot elections, same-day voter registration, and ability to use various forms of ID to vote are all critical parts of HB1303. Colorado voting rights are well served because HB14-141, the planned two year moratorium on implementing 1303, died unmourned in the State Committee on February 24, 2013.
Mr. Head's participation in three legislative attempts to limit the voting rights of Coloradans is shameful, and unworthy of an aspiring election official. Thankfully, he's 0 out of 3 on that.