Search Results for: gessler

2015 Denver Municipal Elections: List of Candidates

Mayor of Denver Michael Hancock

You can go ahead and mark down Michael Hancock for another term as Mayor of Denver.

The 2015 Denver Municipal Elections are fast approaching, and the way things are shaping up, we could see one of the more crowded ballots in years — which should make it very difficult for any one candidate to get 50% of the vote and avoid a runoff. This is also the first Denver election to take place under the re-drawn city boundaries, so there are more unknowns than normal.

Candidates for Municipal Office (Mayor, Auditor, Clerk & Recorder, City Council) can begin circulating petitions to formally place their names on the ballot as soon as Tuesday, Feb. 3; signed petitions are required to be submitted to the Denver Clerk and Recorder by March 11. The General Election will be held on May 5, with a runoff (as necessary) election scheduled for June 2.

We'll be following the Denver elections every step of the way. Early indications are that two over-arching themes should be at play this spring: 1) Conflicting views about development and affordable housing, and 2) Labor union support (pro-union vs. anti-union sentiments).

Click after the jump for a brief look at the declared candidates for office and how each respective race is shaking out as January draws to a close:

(more…)

Lawrence, Navarro-Ratzlaff Square Off For Szabo Leadership Post

Minority leadership selection.

Minority leadership selection.

As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

Reps. Clarice Navarro of Pueblo and Polly Lawrence of Douglas County are lobbying members of their Republican caucus to be the next assistant minority leader.

The office is now held by Rep. Libby Szabo of Arvada, who will be resigning as she was selected by a vacancy committee to serve on the Jefferson County board of commissioners. Her resignation date and the caucus election date are not known yet.

We could see this going either way, with Rep. Polly Lawrence having closer ties to House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso but Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff a favorite both of party activists and the Scott Gessler-allied GOP attorney class.

Sometimes these get publicly nasty, and sometimes they only get nasty behind closed doors. Sometimes there's no drama at all when leadership positions unexpectedly become available, but as bloggers we always hope for at least some token fireworks. We'll update should any occur.

New SoS Williams’ Agenda: Bold Solutions In Search of Problems

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Nothing you shouldn't have expected from Colorado's freshly sworn-in Secretary of State Wayne Williams, but national liberal blog Think Progress reports on Williams' priority as Secretary of State: whatever voter ID law he can get.

Wayne Williams (R) was sworn in this week as Colorado’s Secretary of State, and has already begun pushing for laws to make voters show photo identification before they can cast a ballot. “I think most Coloradans are honest and law-abiding and follow the rules, but I think it’s important to have the processes in place to protect the election system so that people have confidence in it,” Williams told Colorado Public Radio in an interview over the weekend.

He added that because Democrats still control the governor’s mansion and state house, passage of such a law is unlikely, but offered that he’d be willing to settle for rules requiring a photo ID for Coloradans taking advantage of the state’s same-day voter registration. “This is someone we’ve never seen before. We don’t have any proof they are who they claim to be,” he said.

Studies show such a law targeting same-day registration would disproportionately impact voters who are younger, lower income, non-white, and newly naturalized.

There have been no reports to suggest any problem with the execution of Colorado's modernized election laws in 2014, including the administration of same-day registration. Even Williams' predecessor Scott Gessler, one of the most vocal critics of the 2013 legislation that revamped Colorado's election system, grudgingly admits that the system overall worked pretty well. With that in mind, nothing about same-day registration overcomes the well-documented problems with requiring a photo ID to carry out the constitutional right to vote. In the absence of any actual problem, there's simply no reason to impose this burden–except to make it harder to vote.

But as Think Progress continues, Williams is all about making it harder to vote, even where that means breaking campaign pledges:

Williams’ campaign centered on his reputation as a “champion of access and transparency in government” and his promise to “ensure voter access to the polls” — though he did express support for voter ID laws during his run for office. He also often touted his record of making voting more convenient as a county clerk: “We have worked with all parties and groups to ensure that our polling locations are located in easy to reach locations and we’ve exceeded legal requirements by opening more locations and opening them for longer hours. As a result of these efforts, more citizens have voted than ever before in my county.”

After winning the race, he flipped on this point as well, telling Colorado Public Radio that too many polling locations were open for too many hours in this past election. “That’s not really a very cost-effective way and there certainly wasn’t a demand for it,” he said, adding that he hopes to give counties “flexibility at the local level” to decide when and where polling locations should be available.

During the 2013 recall elections, Williams came under fire for severely limiting voting locations and hours in Senate District 11. After mail ballots for the recalls were disallowed in court on a technicality, having convenient locations and hours for voters to cast ballots became far more important. Despite this, Williams' polling centers in El Paso County opened days after their counterparts in Pueblo–and in Manitou Springs, a stronghold for recalled Sen. John Morse, a vote center didn't open until the Monday before the election.

In that case, anyway, the "flexibility" Williams wanted was flexibility to game the system.

Bottom line: Williams gets a little space as a new Secretary of State to get his agenda together, but we can't forget that this is the same Wayne Williams who made a nationwide joke of himself last October–reaching for excuses to question mail ballots that were simply laughable. Suffice to say, whatever Williams ends up proposing had better be backed up with hard evidence or it will go nowhere. After Williams' embarrassing failure to gin up scandal on FOX News–not to mention four years his predecessor spent making wild allegations about vote fraud in Colorado that were totally unfounded–he starts with basically zero credibility.

And we have a strong suspicion that is where he will remain.

Top 10 Stories of 2014: The Final Four

We are finishing up our Top 10 Stories of 2014 by posting the final four all at once.

As we realized while writing the first six entries, there isn’t much that we can say about the biggest stories of 2014 that hasn’t already been written in this space. With 2015 already upon us, it’s time to close this series out.

With that, we give you the entire list of our Top 10 Stories of 2014. Follow the links below for the first six entries, or follow the jump to read the final four in its entirety.

#10: Colorado’s Two-Headed Electorate
#9: Unfinished Business in Jefferson County
#8: Cory Gardner Runs for U.S. Senate
#7: Frackapalooza!
#6: Colorado GOP Goes WTF
#5: So Much for Those Recalls
#4: Republicans Battle Each Other But Take Control of State Senate (below)
#3: Coffman Crushes Romanoff in CD-6 (below)
#2: Hick Finds His Groove, and Another Bad Loss for Beauprez (below)
#1: Gardner Wins Senate Seat, Ending Long Career for Mark Udall (below)

 

(more…)

Gessler’s Anti-Mail Ballot Talking Points Grow Awfully Thin

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

Reid Wilson writes at the Washington Post today about the differing experiences of states that have switched to mail ballots. Two states, Washington state and Colorado, both have Republican Secretaries of State. In Washington, Secretary of State Kim Wyman says the switch to mail balloting has been highly successful. After the state allowed mail ballots in the 1990s, it emerged as by far the most popular–and cost effective–option.

But here in Colorado, outgoing Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler is duty bound to disparage mail ballots as he has since the legislation broadening their use passed in 2013–and no positive experience can shake him.

To Gessler, whose state only began conducting elections entirely by mail this year, the system creates the potential for what he calls a “single point of failure” — the U.S. Postal Service.

“The Postal Service is cutting back service for cost-cutting measures,” Gessler said. “You’re seeing some disenfranchisement of voters where the post office is just so slow.”

“I think more people are disenfranchised through all-mail ballots because of the post office than anything else in the country,” he said.

Richard Coolidge, a spokesman for Gessler’s office, said the secretary of state worked overtime to collect mail from the central processing facility in Denver to meet the Election Day deadline. They found 366 ballots that would have otherwise been thrown out for arriving too late.

We have no doubt that some number of voters disregarded the deadline to mail in ballots that was clearly indicated on every ballot as well as other election-related correspondence. Even factoring that inevitable issue, it's just silly to claim that the Postal Service is a "single point of failure" in Colorado elections. For one thing, a large percentage of "mail ballots" aren't mailed back to clerks at all, but dropped off at ballot collection boxes. Counties are apparently not required to track the percentage of ballots returned by postal mail as opposed to being dropped off directly but we've heard in Denver the percentage may be 70% or more deposited in drop boxes. Beyond that, there are other options available, like early voting and vote centers, that make this "single point of failure" business just plain silly.

But the best evidence that Gessler is off base with his ongoing complaints about mail ballots are the results of this year's elections. Neither mail balloting, nor other new election provisions Gessler complains about like same-day voter registration, prevented Republicans from having a pretty good election in Colorado in 2014. There is no evidence that Colorado's updated election laws resulted in anything other than better turnout in a midterm election that nationwide saw the worst turnout since the 1940s. Republicans won the U.S. Senate race, dominated the downticket statewide races except Bob Beauprez's gubernatorial defeat, and made Democrats work for legislative races all over the state. What about this experience speaks badly of Colorado's new election laws, which happen to have been passed by Democrats?

Democrats are bruised from this year's election results, but one thing we can all say for sure today is that Gessler's wild predictions of fraud and chaos as a result of House Bill 13-1303 were totally unfounded. Next year, when new Secretary of State Wayne Williams tries to claim otherwise, hopefully someone reminds him that he won his election in 2014 comfortably too.

Gessler Blames County Clerks for Election Day Problems

Scott Gessler.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler: Blaming everyone else since 2011!

You may recall from Election Day that there were several complaints of problems with the Secretary of State's computer system as county clerks tried to update ballot results. As Charles Ashby of the Grand Junction Sentinel reports, Secretary of State Scott Gessler blames the county clerks for problems with his own office:

Colorado’s county clerks and the Colorado Office of Information Technology aren’t agreeing with Secretary of State Scott Gessler about what happened on Election Day.

Gessler told state lawmakers last week that it wasn’t his office’s fault that the county clerks’ offices had problems accessing the Colorado Statewide Registration and Election system.

Instead, the Republican blamed the Office of Information Technology and the clerks’ election workers, saying there was nothing wrong with his system, known as SCORE.

“In anticipation of an afternoon flood (of usage), we brought the system down at 2 o’clock (on Election Day) and brought it up at 2:05 and 30 seconds, so it was down for about five and a half minutes,” Gessler told the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee on Tuesday. “We thought the system worked very well.”

But the Colorado County Clerks Association and the Office of Information Technology, or OIT, said that’s not entirely what happened.

Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner, who is the 2014 president of the association, said the system went down early in the day Nov. 4 because of an initial problem at OIT, but continued to have problems until the polls closed at 7 p.m.

It's hard to say that this is just a simple "he said/she said" argument. Gessler appears unwilling to acknowledge that the SOS computer system had any problems, instead blaming county clerks for clogging up the system. How dare those county clerks actually try to use election software on Election Day.

Gessler's argument is pretty thin in general; there are numerous accounts of computer problems happening across the state throughout the day. We'd guess the Office of Information Technology knows a little more about this than Gessler himself.

Who’s Afraid of All-Mail Ballots? Not The GOP Anymore!

Eli Stokols of FOX 31 writes for Politico Magazine about one very unexpected development of this week's election in Colorado: how the GOP appears to have utilized the state's new all-mail ballot system, a reform they staunchly opposed in the legislature last year, to considerable success:

What has been viewed as a partisan attempt by Democrats to further capitalize on the state’s shifting demographics, making it easier for low-propensity voters to cast ballots, appears to have backfired. An early read of Colorado’s returns shows a much older electorate than anyone had predicted: roughly 60 percent of Colorado voters were over the age of 50. Thus, it appears that many who took advantage of the mail-in option were older voters who tended Republican. Turnout, despite the best efforts of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s vaunted Bannock Street Project and other turnout efforts by other progressive groups, was barely above 2010 levels. Gardner won easily and Beauprez took Hickenlooper, who finally claimed victory Wednesday morning, to extra innings because Democrats were surprisingly hoisted on their own petard of election reform.

While so many people are concerned about Republican efforts to roll back voter rights in other states with controversial voter ID laws, limits on absentee balloting and other measures, Democrats—by expanding voting rights in Colorado—paid the price in a state they might otherwise have won.

In the final days of the campaign, Udall’s team saw a narrow path to a late Election Night victory if they could get the overall Republican voter registration advantage below 6 percent and win big with unaffiliated voters. In the end, they did narrow the GOP edge to 5.4 percent, less than the 6 percent margin Sen. Michael Bennet overcame in 2010. But they fell well short of Bennet’s double-digit margins with unaffiliated voters. That’s little surprise given Gardner’s strength as a candidate—he simply never seemed as scary to women or Hispanic voters as Udall’s campaign said he was—and the fundamentals of the 2014 cycle.

In the Denver Post's related story today, DU professor Seth Masket is less certain mail ballots boosted the GOP, but it's pretty evident they did not help Democrats close the gap in a midterm election already stacked against them:

"It's hard to say what the overall lesson for turnout is" from the universal mail-ballot law, said Seth Masket, chairman of the University of Denver's Department of Political Science. "But what happened in Colorado doesn't look too different from what happened in an awful lot of other states, in that you saw some Republicans who outperformed the polling, and Democrats took losses (nearly) across the board."

Masket long had been skeptical that the 2013 law passed by Colorado Democrats — requiring the sending of a ballot to every registered voter with a verifiable address — would boost Democrats' prospects in a non-presidential election.

The legislation that resulted in mail ballots being sent to every registered voters in Colorado this year, House Bill 13-1303, was hotly opposed by Republicans in the legislature in Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler. Right-leaning "vote watchdogs" like eccentric Aspen millionaire Marilyn Marks warned that mail ballots would allow Democrats to swamp the election with fraud. Now Secretary of State-elect Wayne Williams…well, he didn't actually help scare people about this law much, it's true, though he did try. The law attracted conservative attention again after "gotcha" artist James O'Keefe led a couple of low-level GOTV staffers into endorsing his theory about how mail ballot fraud might work (even though what he proposed would never work).

Regardless, with the election now over and the GOP riding high, Republicans are singing a very different tune about Colorado's mail ballots:

"With mail ballots, the presumption has been it's better for Democrats and liberal interest groups," said Josh Penry, a Republican consultant to the Coffman campaign. "That doesn't have to be the case. The advantage goes to who's best-funded and -organized."

In hindsight, the results make it pretty clear that that the hysteria over House Bill 13-1303 was as unfounded as the Republican county clerks who helped write it always said. And if you're not convinced that Republicans were not fully embracing House Bill 1303 by Election Day, here's Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute–one of the most controversial opponents of the new election laws–endorsing same-day voter registration:

Bottom line: Colorado's experiment with modernized, easily accessible voting in 2014 strongly argues against the kinds of voting restrictions traditionally favored by Republicans. Where in many states Republican-controlled legislatures have clamped down on voting methods, accessibility, and documentation, Colorado took the 180-degree opposition approach of making it as easy to vote as possible while preserving basic safeguards.

And apparently, that didn't hurt the GOP at all. While that one-time result may disappoint some partisan Democrats, we are obliged to consider it a positive development for small-d democracy.

Hickenlooper Survives 2014 Democratic Bloodbath

UPDATE: In a message to supporters a short while ago, Republican Bob Beauprez concedes defeat:

This is a different message to share with you than we had hoped. We have been watching the results as votes continue to be counted and unfortunately at this point, even with a handful of counties still reporting, there just aren't enough options to get us across the finish line.

I just spoke with Governor Hickenlooper. We had a good conversation and I congratulated him on a hard fought race.

—–

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Moments ago, The Denver Post called the Colorado gubernatorial race for incumbent Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper:

Gov. John Hickenlooper is projected to hold his office, according to calculations by The Denver Post on Wednesday morning.

With 93 percent of votes counted as of about 7:20 a.m., Hickenlooper is leading Bob Beauprez, a Republican, by roughly 22,000 votes. Votes are still being tallied in predominantly Democratic Boulder and Denver counties.

Hickenlooper holds 48.3 percent of the vote while Beauprez is trailing with 47.1 percent.

As Election Day turned to Wednesday, Democratic strongholds in Denver and Boulder still had tens of thousands of votes left to count. Swing-state counties and GOP holdouts, meanwhile, had far fewer ballots left for Beauprez to make gains.

Outgoing GOP Secretary of State Scott Gessler says in this story there is a "strong likelihood" of a recount, but at present that would not be automatic: it would be up to Bob Beauprez's campaign to pay for it unless the margin drops to under half a percent. While we wouldn't put that past Beauprez, the numbers just don't appear to be there for a recount to close the margin.

With Hickenlooper's apparent narrow victory over Beauprez, along with the defeat of both 2013 Republican recall election winners by Democrats in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, there's an interesting sidenote forming to what was undeniably a terrible night for Democrats in Colorado and across the nation. We have a lot of analysis coming on this election, but we'll start our readers off this Wednesday morning with an observation: that the gun lobby, for all of their agitation over the past two years, didn't factor much last night.

On a day when many, many Republican votes are cast, Beauprez's defeat after another of his now-trademark over-the-top negative campaigns is a repudiation of that style of politics as well–in stark contrast to the indestructible beatific grin that helped Cory Gardner become our state's junior U.S. Senator. It's very clear that campaign tactics in Colorado are going to change after this election on both sides; and we would regard the universal disavowal of blatant mendacious fearmongering in our politics as a positive development.

And congratulations to Gov. Hickenlooper, perhaps the happiest Democrat in America today.

Vote Fraud: The Great Nothingburger of 2014

James OKeefe, wearing a Mark Udall sticker.

James O’Keefe, wearing his Mark Udall sticker.

As the Denver Post's Joey Bunch reports:

This campaign season, Colorado's new mail-ballot voter law has drawn the national sideshow attention of cable news and opinion, AM radio and even a sting by conservative provocateur James O'Keefe — all focused on the notion that Tuesday's outcome could be tainted.

But perception hasn't been reality, according to election officials on both sides of the deep political divide who report only a routine percentage of challenged signatures, undeliverable ballots and reports of alleged shenanigans.

Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner said the lack of actual trouble is largely because voting by mail is nothing new. It's been an option for Colorado voters since 1992. And in the 2012 general election, 73 percent of Coloradans cast mail ballots.

"What's different is we have a party that's made allegations of fraud part of its platform," Reiner, a Republican who is president of the Colorado County Clerks Association, said of some members of her party. [Pols emphasis]

In addition to the increased overall turnout in this midterm, the apparent success of House Bill 13-1303 is a major blow to perennial Republican allegations of "massive voter fraud" either being planned or perpetrated by Democrats in this state. Ginning up voter fraud fears outside Colorado was the purpose of right-wing provocateur James O'Keefe's "sting" of two low-level third party organization GOTV groups in October.

O'Keefe's video of himself leading a couple of field hands into agreeing with his hamfisted plot to commit voter fraud–a plot that would fail due to verification procedures in place in every county clerk's office–made the rounds within the national right-wing mediasphere, but the story never caught on here in Colorado or with national mainstream media. The reason is simple, as Bunch continues–it's not happening.

[C]lerks note that each ballot is screened to make sure the signatures match voter registration records. And so far the numbers of signatures that have been flagged by election judges as incorrect matches are roughly the same as they were in the 2012 general election in El Paso, Denver, Mesa and Pueblo counties checked by The Denver Post on Friday…

El Paso County's clerk and recorder, Wayne Williams, the Republican nominee for secretary of state, appeared on the Fox News Channel on Tuesday night to talk about his concerns that a ballot in every household, regardless of what the voter prefers, would open the way for undue influence by others in the home.

"We haven't seen any significant issues in this county," he said Friday. [Pols emphasis]

Even outgoing Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who led the fact-challenged assault of House Bill 13-1303 and who has alleged widespread voter fraud throughout his term in office without supporting evidence, has been forced to acknowledge the lack of actual problems with the law as it's been implemented–other than complaining about the "Herculean effort" his office made to develop the statewide electronic pollbook, another key fraud prevention check that appears to be working fine.

This is worth keeping in mind, given the shift in ballot returns that began yesterday to favor Democrats. There is a well-established narrative today that Republican victory is "inevitable," even as the polls tighten and the ballot returns turn against them in the final days. If Democrats emerge victorious, as happened in 2010 and 2012 under very similar conditions, we expect the cries of "vote fraud" to become quite loud and obnoxious. Consumers of conservative media have likely heard about O'Keefe's little sting, but will never read this story or the others that disprove him.

If Democrats do prevail, some conspiracist diehards will never be convinced it wasn't fraud. But should it happen this way as it has before, try to explain this stuff to the reasonable people in your life.

Pennies for Your Thoughts: El Paso County Ballots Scrap Signature Cover

Republican Wayne Williams is the current Clerk and Recorder in El Paso County, which puts him in charge of elections and voting in one of the largest counties in Colorado. Williams is also running for Secretary of State to replace Scott Gessler, and if his decisions in El Paso County are any indication, Williams' approach to mail ballots should make you nervous.

All mail ballots must be signed on the back of the envelope in order to be counted as official votes, and El Paso County is no exception to that rule. But El Paso County is perhaps the only large county in Colorado to have eliminated the voter signature cover on the envelope, which allows anyone who handles the envelope to see whose ballot is in their hands (provided they can read the signature). You can see the El Paso County ballot and envelope in the image below; after the jump is a comparison ballot/envelope from Denver, with the signature cover intact.

From what we understand, Williams instructed his office to eliminate the tab that covers the signature on the envelope as a cost-cutting measure. We can't imagine this decision actually saved a lot of money, but even if it did, was it really worth the savings if it jeopardized the secrecy of mail ballots in El Paso County?

El Paso County Ballot

El Paso County mail ballot sans signature cover.

 

 

 

 

 

(more…)

Where’s SoS Gessler when Voter Fraud being committed by James O’Keefe?

Secretary of State Gessler warns us about voter fraud all the time. Now, we know he's most likely in the back pocket of the Koch Brothers and ALEC and fully intends to disenfranchise Democratic voters as his primary goal in this oh-so-noble effort. But, what if we were to give him the benefit of the doubt and presume he would enforce the integrity of our elections even as they are attacked in real time by Fox News provocateur James O'Keefe?

As Mother Jones and Colorado Pols have reported, the convict has been performing his special kind of reporting lately, which has been dutifully reported by Fox News and admirably debunked by our own 9News and others. With these reports it seems quite apparent the James O'Keefe is intent on manipulating Colorado's elections in this critical election year. 

And so, if SoS Scott Gessler doesn't see a problem with these manipulations, maybe we should make sure he knows that we don't appreciate what O'Keefe is doing. And maybe we should contact our Secretary of State now to implore him to stop James O'Keefe and have AG Suthers prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law. 

And one must wonder if O'Keefe is violating his parole from that earlier conviction.

SoS contact page here. Other info below:

Elections & Voting

Suite 200
303-894-2200
303-869-4861 (FAX)
elections@sos.state.co.us

Campaign Finance 
303-894-2200 & press 3
cpfhelp@sos.state.co.us

Help America Vote Act (HAVA)
SCORE
Voter information
 

Elections Staff Directory

Even More Right Wing Ballot BS Debunked By 9NEWS

Kudos again to 9NEWS' excellent reporting in the last 24 hours, discrediting a flurry of alarmist nonsense from conservatives about Colorado's mail ballot system. Last night, reporter Brandon Rittiman debunked another truly bizarre lie about Colorado elections, broadcast to millions of FOX News viewers across America yesterday by lead anchor Megyn Kelly:

Tuesday's episode of a Fox News host Megyn Kelly's program incorrectly told viewers that Colorado voters are now able to print ballots using their home computers and vote by turning them in…

The host described it as a "first of its kind election law: a set of rules that literally allows residents to print ballots from their home computers, then encourages them to turn ballots over to 'collectors' in what appears to be an effort to do away with traditional polling places."

While traditional polling places are a thing of the past because of the law, the claim that it allows for home-printed ballots is simply false…

Once again, none other than Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler is obliged to confirm the news that any voter conversant with the process already knows: this is completely bogus. Other than overseas deployed members of the military, who had the option of being emailed a ballot before last year's election modernization bill, nobody can "print a ballot from their home computer."

It's important to remember that this was not intended to cause controversy locally, since locals know that you can't print a ballot from your computer. The purpose of this very deliberate lie from FOX News is to generate even more vote fraud mythology to reinforce the beliefs of a segment of the electorate who already believes it's happening. Just like James O'Keefe's baiting low-level campaign workers to recite an unworkable fraud proposal, the facts simply do not support the hysteria. Because we think FOX News either knows or should know such elementary facts about Colorado voting law before broadcasting them, the only reasonable conclusion is that the hysteria is an end unto itself.

Watch the video above and tell us we're wrong.

James O’Keefe Helps Debunk Mail Ballot Fraud Myths

James OKeefe, wearing a Mark Udall sticker.

James OKeefe, wearing a Mark Udall sticker.

Conservative media lit up yesterday after conservative provocateur James O'Keefe released a video from his recent "vote fraud" sting attempts in Colorado. Last weekend, we got reports that O'Keefe was in the state attempting to bait Democratic field campaign workers into endorsing fraudulent acts involving mail ballots. Word spread fast from there, but evidently O'Keefe had been on the ground for some time before his presence was publicized.

In the end, it does appear that O'Keefe got what he wanted: out of presumably dozens of attempts where he was informed that his proposal would be felony vote fraud, it looks like he found two people willing to follow his bait into a very, very bad idea: collecting unused mail ballots from students who have moved or transferred, completing them, and turning them in.

Before we go any further, everyone does realize that is a serious crime, right? Good. Let's be very clear about what happened here: O'Keefe was able to lead a couple of low-level table staffers into saying some eye-poppingly stupid things. One agreed with him that turning in other people's ballots would be morally okay, the other actually volunteered "ghetto Aurora" as a good place to collect unused ballots. In both cases, what these staffers for nonprofits Work for Progress and Greenpeace respectively said was absolutely termination-offense unacceptable. We'll go a step further and say the one who got all racial about helping out O'Keefe with his fraud designs must, for the common good, never work in politics again. But in neither case is there any suggestion that these staff would have come up with the idea to do this were it not for O'Keefe's prompting. There's no actual plan by anyone to do what he suggests.

And there's a good reason for that: as our local media has done a good job explaining since O'Keefe's video broke yesterday, the ballot fraud O'Keefe is proposing simply would not work. 9NEWS reports that even GOP Secretary of State Scott Gessler can't defend O'Keefe's allegations:

"I can't promise people that it will happen," Sec. of State Scott Gessler said. "I can't promise people that it can't happen. But what I can say is we've got a pretty good system and we're always trying to make it better." [Pols emphasis]

County clerks are required by law to verify signatures on ballots. Gessler says there is a loophole in that law allowing signatures to go unverified if a witness signs the ballot.

But clerks contend witness signatures are rare, and they still have the power to scrutinize those ballots if they seem suspicious.

Witness-signed ballots are indeed rare–and as the Denver clerk's office explains, you can't just fish a ballot out of somebody else's mailbox and send it in. It will be caught:

"That check of signature verification is really the stopgap to prevent ballots that are being filled out by people who are not the voter," said Amber McReynolds, the director of Denver's elections division.

About 1.5% of the ballots turned into the Denver clerk's office so far have been flagged for signature verification according to this story. That doesn't mean they're fraudulent, of course, it just means that the signature on file with the Denver clerk didn't match the signature on the ballot envelope closely enough to mass automatic muster–or weren't signed at all. Affected voters are notified and given the opportunity to "cure" their ballot by verifying their signature. That's how the system has always worked for absentee and mail-in ballots, and it actually works well. Without anything to go on, what's a fraudster supposed to do to fake someone's signature?

Yes, there's probably some elaborate scheme that could be concocted to obtain examples of signatures of voters to believably forge on mail ballots. If we were to think about all the ways we could violate, you know, just about any law, there are elaborate Rube Goldberg machine ideas we could come up with to pull it off.

But nobody's doing these crazy things to commit vote fraud. It's much cheaper to get out the vote in legal ways.

In a sense, it's good that O'Keefe gave our county clerks a chance to explain how voting by mail actually works in Colorado. It won't mean much to the right wing media breathlessly reporting on O'Keefe's "proven vote fraud" video, or the consumers of said media who aren't really interested in facts that might render them less agitated. But the people who matter–Colorado voters–can be assured that our system does work.

When even Scott Gessler grudgingly admits it, you can feel pretty confident.

Infighting and Petty Posturing in Beauprez Camp

Dustin Olson, via Glamour Shots

Dustin Olson, via Glamour Shots

When Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez was putting his campaign together last spring, he made a point of trying to include top staffers from other flailing or near-dead Republican campaigns. This was easier said than done, according to Republican insiders, who say that Beauprez thought he could make a nice stew with a bunch of mismatched ingredients.

What might have seemed a good idea to Beauprez at the time has resulted primarily in infighting, petty posturing, and silly turf wars that are straining the seams of a campaign desperately trying to find some sort of momentum in the closing weeks of the election…and threatening to poison other GOP campaigns along the way.

As Coloradans count down the last two weeks of the 2014 election cycle, rumors of trouble inside the Beauprez campaign have seeped outside of Republican circles. From what we hear, problems that were simmering over paychecks and grievances about who really represented the "top of the ticket" (Beauprez or GOP Senate nominee Cory Gardner) have grown more heated in recent weeks as Beauprez has failed to gain any real traction in his bid to unseat Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Bob Beauprez for Governor

Bob Beauprez’s Oct. 14th campaign finance report.

It's no secret that the Republican Party in Colorado has been scattered in every direction in recent years. The emergence of the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party in 2009 significantly altered the GOP power structure, but upheaval within Colorado Republican circles actually dates back to the bitter 2006 gubernatorial primary between Beauprez and Marc Holtzman.

Beauprez thought he could find some measure of Kumbaya by recruiting a top Holtzman staffer — Ryan Lynch — to join his campaign after State Sen. Greg Brophy ended his campaign and took Beauprez's side during the "Dear God, anybody but Scott Gessler" phase of the GOP Primary (Lynch had been working on Brophy's sputtering campaign for governor).

But Beauprez already had Republican strategist Dustin Olson at the top of his campaign hierarchy, in addition to Communications Director (and son-in-law) Allen Fuller. From what we understand, Beauprez probably screwed up by approving a huge disparity in salaries for the three men. Courting Lynch so insistently probably didn't make the Alpha Males of Team Beauprez feel much better, either.

Campaign finance reports (at left) show that Olson alone collects nearly double the monthly salary of Lynch and Fuller combined. Olson was paid $12,000 at the beginning of October, with Lynch and Fuller each taking home $6,500. Interestingly, Beauprez's reports are careful to note that Olson and Lynch hold similar titles with the campaign; both Olson and Lynch are listed as "Manager and Deputy Managers," a title share that surely makes Lynch feel much better about his bank account.

Bob's Beard

Allen Fuller still has the best beard of the Beauprez staffers.

Adding to the drama has been Beauprez's Lt. Governor running mate Jill Repella (remember her? No?) Repella has made it a point in her "public" appearances with Republican Party faithful to talk about how "proud" she is to be "representing the top of the Republican ticket in Colorado." You could argue whether Beauprez or Gardner truly maintains the "top spot" in Colorado GOP campaign circles, though on a broader scale, the implications of a Gardner victory are much more important for Republicans. This has become a regular source of irritation for Republicans in Colorado, many of whom would probably side with Gardner if they had to choose one or the other.

We don't want to overstate the importance of any of this, but it should not be ignored, either.

You can often tell a great deal about the direction of a campaign based on the mood of the core people involved. This kind of infighting can, and does, happen from time to time, but you usually see it when a campaign has reached its conclusion and the great Monday-morning quarterbacking begins. The fact that these rumors are spilling out now is a bad omen in general for Beauprez's campaign.

Joe Neguse Sets Fundraising Record for SOS Candidates

Joe Neguse

Joe Neguse, Democrat for Secretary of State

According to a press release sent out yesterday by the campaign of Democrat Joe Neguse:

Today Joe Neguse for Secretary of State announced raising $461,380 in contributions. Neguse surpassed the total amount raised by any candidate running for Secretary of State in the history of Colorado. [Pols emphasis]

Mike Coffman previously held the record with $446,660 total raised in his 2006 run for the office. Neguse has already bougth $280,000 in TV ads. Neguse's Republican opponent, on the other hand, appears to have raised the least amount  of any candidate (Republican or Democrat) running for statewide office in Colorado.

Republican Wayne Williams has raised a total of $225,522, which isn't even half of the total raised by Neguse. We're actually kind of surprised Williams has even raised that much given his numerous problems with fundraising.

Neguse has run a very strong campaign for Secretary of State, which gives him the best odds in our view of the three Democrats running for down ballot statewide races (Attorney General, Treasurer, SOS). As we've said many times in the past, it is tough for any candidates running for these seats to really make a mark in an election year where tens of millions of dollars are being spent on three races alone (Governor, U.S. Senate, CO-6), particularly given the fact that Colorado voters tend to split their votes for these second-tier seats. But the combination of Neguse's strong campaign and Williams' general ineptitude — not to mention a poisonous four years from current SOS Scott Gessler – may just put Neguse over the top in November.