Wayne Laugesen, editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette.
Yesterday, Colorado Springs Gazette editor Wayne Laugesen published an editorial demanding a special session to "fix" the election modernization bill passed by the General Assembly this year, House Bill 1303. Republican opponents of this new law, which was written in large part by county clerks from both parties, have made a range of highly dubious claims about this bill, from warnings that it would facilitate "gypsy voting" by nonresidents to the bizarre assertion that ballots might arrive "from Chicago" and be legally cast in Colorado elections.
Jon Caldara of the right wing Independence Institute went so far as to cast a ballot in the recent Senate District 11 (Colorado Springs) primary, even though he has lived in Boulder for nearly 30 years. As we've explained based on sound legal opinions we've heard, Caldara's logic is fundamentally flawed, and he has exposed himself to criminal prosecution by falsely affirming his "residence" in Colorado Springs. It seems like part of the purpose of Laugesen's silly editorial is to run cover for Caldara's election fraud, but he doesn't even manage that as we'll explain.
Here are some of the major claims made by the Gazette yesterday about Colorado election law, with their debunking. We hope that at some point journalists will stop allowing this nonsense to be uncritically repeated by their outlets, to include their editorial boards:
The new law undoes traditional checks and balances that have kept elections fair. Gone are assurances that only lawful residents of a jurisdiction get to vote in an election. Before HB1303, only the tinfoil hat crowd worried much about election fraud. Today, with HB1303, it's a legitimate concern…
Now first of all, we're pretty sure Laugesen just accused Secretary of State Scott Gessler and a whole lot of other Republicans who do indeed "worry about election fraud" of being members of the "tinfoil hat crowd!" Setting that aside for a moment, Laugesen is wrong–House Bill 1303 does not eliminate "assurances that only lawful residents of a jurisdiction get to vote in an election." Voting fraud is today–and always has been–a felony. Same day registration doesn’t remove any checks and balances, and actually isn't all that new. As the Secretary of State's office itself explained, the law allows voters to cast a ballot after they have already moved to the district and their address is verified.
We know the law can be abused, which is obvious to anyone who reads it. Any question about the biggest flaw in HB1303 was eliminated when Jon Caldara, a Boulder resident and president of Colorado's Independence Institute, cast a blank ballot in the District 11 recall to make a point.
You might recall during the debate over gun safety legislation in the General Assembly this year, a key contention by opponents was that "criminals don't care about laws." This argument always dumbfounded us, because it's a completely ridiculous tautology–of course criminals "don't care about laws," that's why they're criminals. But here we have one of the same people who made this ridiculous argument, that criminals don't follow laws, calling for–wait for it–stricter election laws! Because–wait for it–it's possible to break the law! We agree Caldara is a great example of the problem of people breaking laws.
That was a high-profile stunt, and authorities could do nothing to stop it because of HB1303.
If someone swears under penalty of perjury that something is true, generally that sworn statement is accepted by whoever is asking for it. If it is determined that a person lied under penalty of perjury, they then can be prosecuted. That didn't change with House Bill 1303. Caldara committed a felony by pretending to move to Colorado Springs and casting a ballot in the recall election. As we've explored in detail, it was obviously never Caldara's "intention" to move to Colorado Springs. So he committed a felony. The threat of felony prosecution is now, and has always been, the principal deterrent to election fraud.