(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
So I attended the Pueblo County Republican Party Meeting on May 13, 2014. My intent was to go incognito, as a generic interested Puebloan, and to find out what Marilyn Marks, (left) the featured speaker and Colorado elections activist, had to say about elections in Pueblo, as well as how the primary-election GOP candidates were positioning themselves on issues. The meeting was open to the general public, and covered by media, including the Pueblo Chieftain. My "undercover" mode included dressing up and wearing makeup. I figured that would make me unrecognizable. It didn’t work well.
I was outed by Victor Head as someone who writes for Pols about five minutes after I dropped off the obligatory bag of chips at the pot luck table. Nice to know that Mr. Head is a dedicated Pols reader, and that he follows my writing, in particular. It’s always nice to meet a fan.
Becky Mizel, head of the Pueblo Republican Party, wanted to see my card. “I don’t have a card,” said I, truthfully. “That’s strange,” she replied, her brow furrowing with suspicion. I gave her my best aging-flaky-schoolmarm smile, and my contact information.
Then I was introduced to the audience at large as a writer for the Colorado Independent, and had to correct that grand, but mistaken, affiliation to that of an “Independent journalist, whose work appears on Pols, but who does not work “for Pols”.
Most people were very nice and friendly to me, even after my dreadful citizen-journalist secret was revealed. Senator Crowder and Sherry Crowder, in particular, were charming. I never got a chance to ask Richard Anglund why, after derailing mail ballots in the Pueblo recall, he never actually turned in a single signature to petition onto the ballot. Perhaps that answer is self-evident, in the “derailing mail ballots in the Pueblo recall” part.
Randy Baumgartner’s moustache is even more impressive in person. I found myself pondering what kinds of hair products he uses. Gel? Mousse? A leave-in conditioning spray, perhaps? The hirsute appendage had a lasting, yet soft and sleek-looking hold.
I now know where Andrew Carnegie gets so many of his conservative cartoons. There’s apparently a site called “ImageBlitz”, which, like the Blitz bombing of London, aims for maximum propaganda destruction of sanity via constant bombardment using scowling-Obama memes. Image blitz slides were on the two wall TVs on a loop- I think I saw a hundred slides ten times each during the evening. After two hours, I felt a strong compulsion to arm a fetus to defend Benghazi and defund Obamacare.
While Marilyn Marks spoke, I was still trying to be discreet, so positioned my camera under the table. If you choose to inflict it upon yourself, you will hear 34 minutes of Marilyn Marks, and see 34 minutes of the underside of a plastic table. I tried to replace the video with photos, and keep the audio, to no avail. Youtube video editor sucks. I-movie has become user-unfriendly. I’m open to suggestions. If you’re a Pueblo Republican, Becky Mizel has some high quality video of Marks’ speech. She’ll probably let you see it.
What Marilyn Marks Said:
Marilyn Marks, spoke to a partisan crowd, from an admittedly Republican perspective : (00:31 in the video) Her claims are numbered below, with their time signatures from the video. My comments:
About Colorado’s Election Laws, and their effects:
Marks thinks that recently passed election laws HB1303 and HB1164 were completely partisan, and have opened up elections to fraud with no penalties. (Quotes 1 and 2 below.) There is nothing in HB1164 nullifying penalties for election fraud, and in fact, the law affirms existing penalties and codes. She claimed that 16 year olds and noncitizens are receiving ballots, with the implication that these people are also voting. (3 and 4 below).This is contradicted by the language of HB1164, 1-13.5-202, which specifically states that municipal voters need to be eligible to vote under the Uniform Election Code. • She implied that election judges could be drunk or criminal,“the last person to leave the bar”, although HB1164 mandates a training program and the firing of any judge who refuses to be trained. (5 and 6 below)
Essentially, Marks posits that Colorado's new election laws leave opportunities for fraud: “We are the only state that has all-mail ballots and same day voter registration. It is a toxic mix that absolutely acts for corruption.” (#10, below)
However, unless one intentionally sets out to commit election fraud, a la Jon Caldara, or with the numerous methods Marks detailed in her speech (23-27 below), election fraud will be as rare as it has always been in Colorado.
About Mail in Ballots:
Marks is not a fan of mail-in- ballots. She claimed that Democrats intimidate voters and “harvest” only friendly ballots. There has never been any evidence of this, although, of course, Marks claims to "know of cases" of intimidation and "ballot harvesting", but, of course, provides no specifics. (below, 10, 11)
"I have seen heartbreaking undue influence…with mail in ballots. They are being used for barter, for cash, and with threats. So…..if Marks saw this, why didn’t she report ihese election fraud felony offenses? Why is she shielding these “criminals”?
Marks also confirmed what many of us had suspected since the 2013 recall of Senator Angela Giron: mail-in ballots, or the lack of them, was the crucial limiting factor, which enabled the recall forces to win in Pueblo. 70% of the mail-in ballot vote in the recall was against the recall; 56% of the in-person-at-the-polling-place was for the recall. Marks' behind-the-scenes advocacy, as Victor Head said, "won the recall election".
About Republican Chances of Winning in Colorado:
Given Marks’ basic premise that there is an evil Democratic plot to steal elections, she also believes that Republicans must start playing “defense” – whatever that is….in order to win elections. She contradicts conventional wisdom about the ease of GOP wins in the upcoming midterm elections:
“They will say that Republicans have a great mid-term election advantage. Not in Colorado. Why? ….That turns the turn-out assumptions upside-down. Because turnout is no longer a big effort. Turnout comes to the people. The ballots delivered to the door. And it is so easy to get someone to vote. And the best organized, with the most boots on the ground, …and who are willing to, let’s say, put the most pressure on the voter will win. Unfortunately, they have the advantage." (Quotes 7-8, 13-15)
Marks: "Pundits are saying that Mid term elections brought older white voters to the polls, and a lot of people would say that Republicans are older white voters." (The Republican meeting was certainly much older and much whiter than the Democratic meetings I’ve been to in Pueblo).
Republicans, says Marks, are at a disadvantage in Colorado this year, due to passage of the election laws. To overcome this disadvantage, Republicans must play "defense". (See Quotes 12-15 below)
Ms. Mark’s ideas for Republicans to play “defense” involve :
- Not allowing election clerks (particularly Bo Ortiz) to appoint any election judges, and to instead appoint election judges, whom Ms. Marks will train, to “back him (Bo Ortiz) down.” (Quotes 16-17, below) Since 70% of voters vote by mail in Colorado, having these badass (excuse me, "robust") judges at polling places will have a limited effect on elections, and give the rest of us a good reason to stay away. Do I want to go to a polling place, vote on an outdated machine, and have an intrusive person who thinks I’m probably a criminal breathing down my neck while I cast my ballot? Nope, it’s the kitchen table and the drop-off box for me.
- Sue! Sue! Clerk Ortiz has already been contacted by Ms. Mark’s attorneys about the “election judge” issue.
- Tell Republicans in Pueblo to be sure to vote and send in their ballots. Just don’t hand them to any Democrats who come knocking at the door to “harvest” them.
o Okay. The GOP can generate their own corps of dedicated volunteers who will break their behinds getting R, D, I, or U ballots to the clerks within 72 hours.
o Voter suppression was tried, and struck out. Are there more suppression tactics planned before the 2014 elections? Do they involve the use of intentional voter fraud to prove that "election laws don't work"?
Ms. Marks detailed several ways to commit voter registration fraud, voting fraud, and election fraud in general: ( below, quotes 22-26)
My understanding is that these stratagems won’t work because of the requirement for picture ID for first time voters, signature verification, and cross checks with DMV and Homeland Security databases.
But dream on, Ms. Marilyn, dream on.
How she feels about Pueblo’s Clerk, Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz, and Election Clerks in general:
Marilyn Marks is frequently at odds with election clerks of both parties and all Colorado counties. It's fair to say that Ms. Marks seldom meets an election she believes is conducted properly, and she is not shy about her sharp criticisms of election clerks and election procedures. See quotes 23-29 below.
13:47 I know that you all are going to have a robust, well-fought Clerk’s race here. And I can’t thank Victor Head enough, for stepping up (applause), because it is so important. “
Marks says that privacy is critically important for voting and that mail ballots destroy privacy: (except when Republicans violate voter privacy ourselves for political purposes)
At 31:28 – 33:00, Ms. Marks advocates public shaming of voters. She says that lists of people who have and have not voted are public information, and that those lists can be published online. Just in the interest of voting integrity, you understand.
It took me a few hours to get those looped image blitz slides out of my head. Once I no longer felt compelled to defend a fetus' right to bear arms, or to defund Benghazi, I considered what my real takeaways from the evening were.
Republican party activists are nice, decent, ordinary people, who have a very intense, obsessive belief that Democrats are out to steal the vote! They really believe it. At least some of them do, and the rest are opportunists who find it to their financial advantage to encourage this belief. Marilyn Marks, I think, is in both categories, which.makes her doubly dangerous to the rights of voters in Colorado- she is a woman on a mission to seek out fraud and loss of privacy for voters, even if, like Jon Caldara, she has to create the fraud and violate voter privacy herself.
- “Thinking about this last legislative session, the election bills [HB1303, HB1164]that were passed, were passed purely on a partisan basis. “(00:42)
- Marks claimed that election fraud was “decriminalized” with HB1164. There is nothing in HB1164 nullifying penalties for election fraud, and in fact, the law affirms existing penalties and codes.
- She claimed that 16 year olds are voting, since they can pre-register before turning 18. (03:22)
- “They also sent out ballots to a lot of non-US Citizens who own property”…(03:32). Marks implied, but didn’t say, that non-citizens are voting in municipal elections.
- This is contradicted by the language of HB1164, 1-13.5-202, which specifically states that municipal voters need to be eligible to vote under the Uniform Election Code.
- She claimed that election judges could be “the last person to leave the bar”, although HB1164 mandates a training program and the firing of any judge who refuses to be trained.
- “They will say that Republicans have a great mid-term election advantage. Not in Colorado. Why? ….That turns the turn-out assumptions upside-down. Because turnout is no longer a big effort. Turnout comes to the people. The ballots delivered to the door. And it is so easy to get someone to vote. And the best organized, with the most boots on the ground, …and who are willing to, let’s say, put the most pressure on the voter? Unfortunately, they have the advantage. (7:03.)
- (9:09) Pundits are saying that Mid term elections brought older white voters to the polls, and a lot of people would say that Republicans are older white voters (my aside: The Republican meeting was certainly much older and much whiter than the Democratic meetings I’ve been to in Pueblo).
- (12:37) “We are the only state that has all-mail ballots and same day voter registration. It is a toxic mix that absolutely acts for corruption.”
- (19:16)" I have seen heartbreaking undue influence…with mail in ballots. They are being used for barter, for cash, and with threats."
- So…..if Marks saw this, why didn’t she report it, as it is definitely an election fraud felony offense? Why is she shielding these “criminals”?
- (At 5:40) “I would say that Republicans in Colorado are at a great disadvantage this year… . If you listen to the national pundits, they say that Republicans have this great midterm advantage. But not in Colorado, because of the laws that were passed Last year, 1303, this year, 1164. “
- (At 9:30) “How are Republicans Going to Win?” ”In other states, you’ll hear about Get out the vote…by having the right messaging. ….(9:55) So if Republicans are going to win, what are Republicans going to do to protect the ballot box?…Defense.
- (At 11:15) “If we’re really just going to focus on messaging and get out the vote, then I would suggest that we’re just being cheerleaders. Cheerleaders don’t score touchdowns, cheerleaders don’t do secondaries. We need to be thinking about spending some money on defense.”
- (11:35) “There are people who are beginning to be concerned…..about whether national money will come in to Colorado this year. It certainly should attract national money. But if you are ….a big PAC, and see Colorado with essentially lawless elections, high-risk elections…is this where you’re going to put your money? (12:08) And Republicans are …not looking to spend…on defense.”
- Not allowing election clerks (particularly Bo Ortiz) to appoint any election judges, and to instead appoint election judges, whom Ms. Marks will train, to “back him (Bo Ortiz) down.” (28:54)
- Tell Republicans in Pueblo to be sure to vote and send in their ballots. Just don’t hand them to any Democrats who come knocking at the door to “harvest” them. And if Republicans don't vote? Publish their names and shame them publicly. See Marks' comments at 31:39.
- 13:36 Almost any of us can hack the voting registration system without a lot of effort.
- 17:43 I’ve picked up shopping bags full of …live ballots, and your clerks: “Well, you can never get them through the system, because signatures have to be verified. That is just like a false pacifier. You can get those things through the system so easily….I know how….all the insiders know how to do it, and never get caught. “
- (My comment: But wait: I thought it was only the evil Democrats who were out to commit voter fraud. Surely good Republicans would never interfere in the delivery of votes to clerks by hijacking shopping bags full of live ballots!)
- At 23:53, Marks explains how to be a “fictitious voter” and get away with it. Just for informational purposes, of course.
- At 27:42, Marks explains how to fraudulently register to vote.
- “Election officials can absolutely create chaos, their own unfair…their own disadvantage to an opponent.”
- (My comment: So…..if Clerk Ortiz was so corrupt, chaotic, unfair and all-powerful, how was it that the Pueblo recall had an outcome (the recall of Senator Giron) he did not want, and which Republicans clearly did want? How does Clerk Ortiz continue to enjoy broad bipartisan support? Hmmmm….)
- 15:30 “Pueblo is known for having some highly irregular elections.”
- But Secretary of State Coffman commended Bo Ortiz in 2007 for cleaning up irregularities from the previous Clerk, and removed Pueblo from the “election watch list”.
- 16:25 “Our big risk are the people who work inside the elections, and tamper with the equipment, who purposely send out many, many ballots, who approve bad signatures.”
- (Marks is talking here about all election clerks, Republican and Democratic. She and the Clerks are often at odds….unsurprisingly. There is also no evidence of equipment tampering, sending of excess ballots, nor approval of bad signatures on anything but very rare occasions)
- 17:05 “The Clerk’s Association is to voters, as the teacher’s union is to students…the Clerk’s association is not looking out for voters, and the teacher’s union is not looking out for students.”
- ( obligatory teacher’s union bashing statement – check that box).