Gessler predicts uniform voting process

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler is videotaped via cellphone at a presentation in the old courthouse.

Colorado voters — from Denver to Delta and Dove Creek — are likely to cast ballots in statewide uniform fashion in the future, and they’ll likely do so on some form of paper ballots, Secretary of State Scott Gessler told voters Tuesday.

Gessler spoke to about 40 people on an election-integrity listening tour in the old Mesa County Courthouse, 544 Rood Ave. He is to conduct a similar session at 8 a.m. today in Friendship Hall, 1001 N. 2nd St., in Montrose.

Based on discussions with voters, elections officials and others around the state on the subject of a uniform voting system, “My guess is that Colorado probably is headed in that direction,” Gessler said, “and I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up with paper.”

That drew a ripple of applause from the audience, made up mostly of Republicans with some Democrats and unaffiliated voters mixed in.

County clerks run elections in Colorado and each county does things differently, though many voters are familiar with paper ballots sent out in early voting. Some counties, such as Mesa, use touch-screen voting machines, as well, though the counties that use touch screens use machines from different suppliers.

Exactly the form that paper ballots might take is to be determined, Gessler said, noting that some form of electronic voting that generates or marks a paper ballot could end up as part of the mix.

Paper ballots got a vote of support from Palisade resident David Cox, who told Gessler that “there is nothing more simple, more transparent and more able to be audited than a paper ballot.”

Fruita resident Bob Erbisch, however, said he remained comfortable with the idea of electronic balloting.

Having worked in the election last year, Erbisch said he was “pretty satisfied that our votes in this county are extremely secure.”

Colorado already is moving toward a uniform system of voting with a statewide voter-registration system and the installation of high-speed printers in each county, Gessler said.

Those printers can churn out ballots and handle other printing, as well, Gessler said.


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As Gary Harmon reported (“Gessler predicts uniform voting process”, January 29, 2013),  even as Republican state legislators in Denver were blocking an audit of his misuse of discretionary funds for personal travel to the Republican National Convention last year, Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler was undertaking what is arguably a taxpayer-funded exploratory (“listening”) tour of the Western Slope in anticipation of running for Governor next year (as one local attendee encouraged him to do).

Last June, Gessler reportedly told a Tea Party group in Broomfield that “a ‘good election’ is when ‘Republicans win’!”.  Yesterday, Gessler impliedly defined a “good election” as one without long lines and/or fraud.  However, Colorado‘s Constitution demands more. 

Article VII, Section 8 expressly mandates a secret ballot.  While Gessler conceded that Coloradans are indeed entitled to vote by “secret ballot’, he has also argued in legal proceedings that “there is no fundamental constitutional right to a secret ballot”!

While Gessler also concedes that there is a “scary” lack of consistency among the 64 Colorado County Clerks who actually conduct elections, it remains to be seen whether the proposed “statewide uniform voting system” will eliminate the multiple threats to voter anonymity which voting rights activist Marilyn Marks has thoroughly documented.

As Palisade’s David Cox aptly observed, paper ballots are essential to the integrity and transparency of elections – but the Colorado County Clerks Association (“CCCA”)  lobbied for legislation to prohibit public access to voted ballots and for rules that would effectively eliminate the citizen-oversight authority of County Canvass Boards.

While the CCCA is partially taxpayer-funded by counties’ dues, it did not disclose the fact that its lobbying efforts were bankrolled by electronic voting equipment vendors.  Thus, taxpayers should remain wary lest the “uniform statewide voting system” become but another expensive boondoggle for the benefit of well-connected insiders.

                Bill Hugenberg

While Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler commenced his 2014 gubernatorial campaign with a taxpayer funded “election-integrity listening tour” of the Western Slope (Gary Harmon, “Gessler predicts uniform voting process”, January 29, 2013) – even while Republican legislators were blocking an audit of his alleged misuse of discretionary funds for personal travel to the Republican National Convention last August – Gessler is to be commended for expressly dispelling familiar “conservative” mythology about the prevalence of widespread “voter fraud” and thus the need for “picture IDs”.

In March 2011, Gessler claimed to have a list of 11,805 “questionable registrations”, but (ala the infamous Senator Joe McCarthy – also a Republican) never produced that list.  Gessler then sent letters to 3903 registered voters suspected of being non-citizens, of whom 441were “non-citizens” according to a questionably accurate federal database.

As Gessler perhaps inadvertently admitted yesterday, many suspect registrants filled-out voter registration forms – apparently unaware that they could not legally vote—but checked the “Citizen” box:  “No”.  Thus, these insidious (and perhaps Democratic leaning) registrants honestly disclosed their citizenship status, but were entered into Colorado’s Statewide Registration and Election (“SCORE”) system anyway.  No case of actual “voter fraud” by a non-citizen illegally attempting to vote was ever reported.

Meanwhile, Gessler’s expensive, well-publicized, but obviously dubious and apparently partisan “anti-fraud” initiatives (self-described as “forward leaning”) – including his 2012 order prohibiting County Clerks from sending-out mail-in ballots to “inactive voters” (including overseas military personnel) – have been repeatedly rejected by Colorado courts (see, e.g.,“Judge blocks Gessler’s ballot rules”, January 23, 2013).

To Gessler’s credit, however, he also affirmed what experts at the University of Michigan have proven – that all electronic voting equipment in use today are vulnerable to hacking and/or manipulation (as was anecdotally confirmed by several local attendees).  That is why Gessler foresees a continuing trend toward increased reliance on paper ballots.

                Bill Hugenberg

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