Flier assails Mesa County clerk
An unknown group is attacking Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner for doing something that’s already in state law, the Republican clerk said Saturday.
A group calling itself Citizens for Free and Fair Elections mailed fliers to voters in the county Saturday saying Reiner is working with President Barack Obama and state Democrats to push through an election reform bill the group says would allow for rampant voter fraud.
The group hasn’t registered as an electioneering political committee with the Secretary of State’s Office, but its return address is the same as the Hackstaff Law Group. That’s the same law firm that Secretary of State Scott Gessler worked for before being elected to office in 2010.
No one from the group could be reached for comment.
Reiner said the points the mailer claims that the measure, HB1303, would put into place already are in state law, and the bill doesn’t attempt to change any of it.
“I never thought that my name would be associated with the president,” Reiner said. “The voter registration system (under the bill) is the same system that we have in place today. If they feel like that’s a hole (in the bill), well, that’s already a hole today.”
The bill, which passed the Democratic-controlled Colorado House on a party-line vote Friday, is designed to help increase voter participation in the state’s elections.
While the bill makes several changes to voter registration laws, such as allowing for registering up to Election Day, it doesn’t change how those registrations are done and how voters are verified as eligible to cast ballots, Reiner said.
The flier, however, claims the measure would open the door to “illegal aliens” and the deceased to cast ballots.
Reiner said that’s just nonsense.
“The reality of it is it still requires somebody to bring either their driver’s license, their Colorado ID or the last four digits of their Social Security number and it’s verified in our system,” Reiner said. “With the bill, that doesn’t change.”
As for the same-day registrations, Reiner said it isn’t much different than the emergency registrations that occur now.
Under current law, voters who fail to register by the deadline still can register and cast a ballot up to Election Day. Their ballots are held from counting until election officials in the clerks’ offices verify if those voters are valid. If so, their ballots are counted along with the rest of the election.
The measure has the support of nearly all county clerks in the state, most of whom are Republicans like Reiner. It is being pushed by the Colorado County Clerk’s Association and its executive director, Donetta Davidson.
Davidson, also a Republican, served as secretary of state from 1999 to 2005 when former President George W. Bush appointed her to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
Regardless of those conservative credentials, the flier claims supporters of the bill have crossed a line.
“We would be left with no way to verify a voter’s identity — no way of knowing if a voter is even eligible or has voted in another state!” the flier reads. “Felons, illegal aliens — even the deceased — could cast ballots!”
Reiner and House Democrats who also support the bill said the opposite would be true.
Under the bill, all county clerks offices would have more direct access to numerous state and federal databases to help them more quickly verify voters’ eligibility.
House Republicans, and Gessler himself, have said the bill calls for the implementation of the changes too quickly. As a result, it could overwhelm the election databases, causing long lines at vote centers and delayed election results, they say.
Gessler claims that he was “frozen out” from discussions about the bill when it was drafted, but House Democrats said they tried to work with his office but were “rebuffed.”
Reiner said Gessler, during last year’s elections, implemented new programs that are included in the bill that helps prevent anything like that from happening.
“It’s Gessler’s system that he touts as being amazing and wonderful,” Reiner said. “Last year, right before the presidential election, Gessler rolled out online voting for the military and oversees, he implemented that all of us had to upload our results from the election online up to his statewide database, and he gave us all ballot-on- demand printers.”
All of that is called for in the bill, which heads to the Senate for more debate.