Get Ready For Another Purge Attempt From Gessler’s “Friends”

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

When Glenn Beck's "news" site The Blaze mentions Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler and the subject of purging voter rolls, our immediate response, for well-established reasons, is caution.

Iowa and Colorado, typically battleground states in presidential and congressional campaigns, each have more registered voters than they have adults over the age of 18 living in the state, according to a conservative watchdog group’s analysis.

The same is true of Washington, D.C., which is set to hold a primary in its mayoral election next week…

In a letter to top election officials, Judicial Watch said it will file lawsuits if Iowa, Colorado and the District do not correction violations of Section 8 of the NVRA within 90 days.

“Specifically, we ask you to: 1) conduct or implement systemic, uniform, nondiscriminatory program to remove from the list of eligible voters the names of persons who have become ineligible to vote by reason of change in residence,” the letter says, “2) complete this program no less than 90 days prior to the November election; 3) conduct or implement additional routine measures to remove from the list of eligible voters the names of persons who have become ineligible to vote by reasons of death, change in residence, or a disqualifying criminal conviction, and to remove noncitizens who have registered to vote unlawfully.”

…A spokesman for Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler told TheBlaze the office is “continuing to review the letter.”

“The secretary is committed to accurate voting rolls and continues to ask the legislature for the resources to clean the rolls,” Gessler spokesman spokesman Rich Coolidge told TheBlaze. “Unfortunately, the legislature in Colorado would rather have an honor system for voting than an accurate system.” [Pols emphasis]

We haven't found anything yet in the way of mainstream media coverage of yesterday's "press conference" by the conservative group Judicial Watch alleging irregularities in Colorado's voter rolls, which should tell readers something about the reputation of both this group and the problems they're claiming exist–but this story has spread throughout the conservative media pretty quickly. We haven't seen Judicial Watch's methodology in determining these supposed problems, but the group frequently hosts panels with such personalities as anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who claims that illegal immigrants would swamp our elections as voters to "vote for a more liberal agenda." So we have trouble taking them seriously on their face.

Because Scott Gessler regularly steps into controversy by alleging massive fraud by "thousands" of illegal voters in Colorado elections, a charge which has never been substantiated by subsequent investigation, local press is pretty much inured to this stuff. But it's Rich Coolidge's ridiculous, over-the-top quote that makes us think this whole business is intended for consumption outside the state of Colorado.

That is, unless it's Gessler's new gubernatorial campaign theme? If this story ever makes it out of the realm of the D.C.-based right-wing media funny papers, we promise to revisit it.

16 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DavieDavie says:

    So does this mean we don't need any more voter registration drives, since 100% plus of all Coloradans are already registered?  Why hasn't Gessler been trumpeting this amazing statistic?

     

    somore registered voters than they have adults over the age of 18 living in the state, according to a conservative watchdog group’s analysis – See more at: http://coloradopols.com/#sthash.l7mcHeOa.dpuf

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      I'm not sure if that statistic is "amazing," but I can believe it's quite accurate. I do know from the recent referendum petition drive regarding Castle Rock's gun laws that there were in excess of 37,000 registered voters in a town with a total population of about 55,000.  

      I sure don't trust Gessler, or any of his ilk, but it's clear to me that Colorado's voter registration lists are not at all reflective of the actual number of voters here.

      Will this result in the "fraud" that Gessler's crowd claim?  That's never been shown to be true. 

      Is this an issue to be concerned about?  I really don't know for sure.  

      One thing I do know, it makes citizen initiatives and petitioning much more difficult, because the numerical hurdles are much higher than they would be if we had more accurate lists. 

      • DavieDavie says:

        Hmm, seriously, not being a county clerk, I guess I never thought about the amount of churn in the voter rolls has on the overall number of registered voters. 

        When I moved from Denver to Adams county a couple of years ago, I simply registered in my new county and never thought about when Denver would get around to dropping my registration there, or if Adams would forward my new registration to them for purging.

        I've only heard of a couple of cases where someone tried to use both their registrations to vote, but both were Republicans, so you know the votes were made with the best of intentions.

        • BlueCat says:

          It takes a while sometimes, either with moves or deaths.  But, even so, as you point out people trying to vote in both places or even knowing they are listed in their old location are incredibly rare. As far as I know there hasn't been a single case of  someone trying to vote by impersonating a dead person still on the rolls. And I'm talking about decades worth of elections here in Colorado so righties can spare me the dead people voting for Kennedy in Chicago stories.

  2. itlduso says:

    How many times have recounts been conducted in Colorado without a change in the vote total?

    Just sayin'.

  3. kickshot says:

    It is my understanding that the new election law provides for the use of the USPS Change of Address database to flag voters who have moved away from a previous voting address (out of state or across town).

     

    Is that correct? If so Gessler's response should be straightforward.

  4. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Two things commonly happen with registered voters: they move, and they die.

    When a voter moves, his/her mail is either forwarded to the new address, which should happen, or it's not forwarded and lies around in the trash until someone throws it away.  Unfortunately, we have Republican operatives who go through the trash, pick out the ballots, and use them to try to make political points. The two most recent examples of this are Victor Head in Pueblo, and Todd Shepherd, editor of "Complete Colorado", in Colorado Springs.

    Partisan action like this actually retards the updating of voter rolls, because the clerks never get the information that the voter has moved. Hence, the voter is not "inactivated". Now, if the voter themselves registers or updates his/her registration, then the previous registration address is deleted, although still on the voter's record. Most voters don't update registration except in general election years.

    If the voter dies, it's up to the family to notify the election clerks, and this rarely happens. I don't know if there's an automatic feed from the vital records department to the secretary of state's office, but I remember many cases of calling a voter's home, and being told that the voter had passed away.  Then I would so note in the voter database, which election clerks would eventually review, confirm, and inactivate the voter.

    Point is, there are valid reasons for the high number of registered voters exceeding population -  Voter rolls include people who have moved or died, until someone updates it,  and the population is only updated by census every 10 years. The latest census was in 2010, and the latest estimate of CO population is 5,268,367.

    The latest number (February 2014) of registered voters in Colorado, using the Secretary of State's database including active and inactive voters,  is 3,559,134.

    Last time I checked, 3 million is less than 5 million.

    • DavieDavie says:

      MJ — thanks for the education on voter registrations (it was helpful).  Picking a nit however (it's a bit slow at work today), the number in the quote was based on Coloradans 18 and over, so we'd have to know how many kids are under 18 to calculate the registration overage.

      • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

        True, but that's not a nit the Blaze, or Gessler, picked. It's hard to know what sources they cite, since they cite none.

        suburbanstats.org, which claims to get stats from the census bureau, says that the number of CO adults 18 and over is 2,683,115. The actual census bureau estimates that 23.7% of CO's population is under 18, so applying that to the 5,268,367 2013 estimate, we get: 1,248,603 under 18.  Subtract this from the 5M #, we get 4,019,764  adults in Colorado, still more than the registered voters. And no, I have no idea how many are non-citizens or felons still completing sentences, although I expect Gessler to argue that these are well into the 100,000s.

        Don't forget that SOS figure includes inactive voters, as well, so the true number of registered active voters in CO as of Feb 2014 is 2,869,245.

        Any way you slice it, they're lying their asses off, and that includes the Money Badger. Adults in Colorado outnumber registered active voters approx 2:1., no matter what the Blaze says.

         

        • DavieDavie says:

          Thanks — again, very good info.  Now to get the thread back on point (my apologies if I threadjacked earlier).  The real concern is the attitude summed up in the quote from Gessler's hatchetman that will no doubt factor into Gessler's guv campaign, but shows a shocking indifference to truth we have come to expect from him:

          “The secretary is committed to accurate voting rolls and continues to ask the legislature for the resources to clean the rolls,” Gessler spokesman spokesman Rich Coolidge told TheBlaze. “Unfortunately, the legislature in Colorado would rather have an honor system for voting than an accurate system.” [Pols emphasis] – See more at: http://coloradopols.com/diary/55978/get-ready-for-another-purge-attempt-from-gesslers-friends#sthash.1u7nOyUh.dpuf

          • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

            Gessler's still trying to blame his budget woes on HB1303, with that "asking the legislature for resources to clean the rolls" thing.

            The "honor system" he's referring to  is same-day registration. It's not an honor system – if a voter registers at a new address on the same day on which he/she votes,  the voter has to provide valid ID for the new address.

            This is already in place for mail-ballot registration – in order to register by mail and have it activated, the voter needs to copy and include proof of the address change, plus valid ID.

            So either the voter proves an address change by mail, or by in person registration on the day of voting, but either way,  it's not an honor system. Caldara notwithstanding – he broke the law, and our AG let him get away with it.

             

    • BlueCat says:

      To be clear the voter rolls do get updated more frequently then a every 10 years but it hasn't been instantly and it's an imperfect process. In canvassing for Dems when we're told a person on our list is dead or has moved we are supposed to note it for action to be taken to remove the person from the rolls so we  can stop wasting our time but also so the rolls can be better updated. Still with only two Republican voters shown to have tried to vote in two places over recent years, the degree of lag time hasn't been shown to have affected any election results.

      • Ralphie says:

        The SoS voter file itself is quite clean, at least in our County.  Data I've gotten in the past from the Dems, not so much.

         

        • BlueCat says:

          I've seen lag time in the past with both (Dem generated lists for canvassing worse, for sure) but haven't been involved lately. I know my son got a mail in here (Arapahoe County) after he had changed his address.  He's always been good about voting but never had any desire to do it twice. No fraudulent votes were cast as a result of the lag.

  5. Republican 36 says:

    This is again, much to do about nothing.

    A few months ago an outfit called True the Vote, another so called conservative election group, sued the Clerk and Recorder of Gilpin County and the Clerk and Recorder of Mineral County for the same nonsense Judicial Watch is alleging.

    And guess what? There are more registered voters in those counties than there are adults eligible to vote. There is nothing wrong or unusual about that. There are many, many special districts in Colorado. Because of that, a person who is registered to vote in Jefferson County may own property in Montrose County which is within the boundaries of a special district. The Jefferson County resident votes in Jefferson County for all local races and statewide candidates and initiated measures but also votes in special district elections in Montrose. In other words, one voter may be registered to vote in two different places in Colorado and it is legal and legitimate. 

    When True the Vote figured this out they promptly dismissed the lawsuits they brought against the two clerks. Judicial Watch needs to get their facts straight and then retreat from their ridiculous assumptions. They don't have an excuse. This has already been figured out once this year. 

    • DawnPatrol says:

      Superb points, all, R36. But as we all know, GOP actions are never based on truth, fact, or the public good.  They're solely about whatever will most effectively gin up the hatred toward the "uppity darkie in their White House" (and Democrats in general), and motivate the rubes to donate and to turn out en masse to vote the GOP line.

      Fear + hatred (including racism) + anger + lies + selfishness + resentment + self-loathing + voter supression (based on lies about non-existent voter fraud) + strawmen and phony bogeymen + plutocrats' and oligarchs' dirty money = GOP success

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