Attack on Reiner is anything but fair
The Citizens for Free and Fair Elections has an imposing-sounding name. But its attack on Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Sheila Reiner is not at all fair.
Nor are the group’s actions those of responsible citizens, since it has failed to file the requisite electioneering forms with state officials.
The so-far-anonymous organization mailed fliers to Mesa County voters over the weekend, accusing Republican Reiner of joining with President Barack Obama and Democrats in an effort to undermine our voting system.
Reiner’s crime is to support House Bill 1303, which passed the Colorado House last Friday. All but one of the other county clerks in the state — the majority of them Republican — support HB1303 through the Colorado County Clerks Association. Presumably, the Citizens for Free and Fair Elections are targeting other clerks, as well.
Certainly, any group or individual has a right to oppose HB1303, which changes voting rules to mandate that every voter receives a mail ballot, and to allow voter registration even on Election Day. It also offers new systems for verifying voters’ identities and for ensuring they haven’t voted in another jurisdiction.
The bill is worthy of moving forward, with some changes. We agree with Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler that the 90-day time period for implementation is too short. It could overwhelm state and county systems.
But the claims made by the Citizens for Free and Fair Elections group are outrageous — that felons, illegal immigrants, even dead people, would suddenly be casting ballots, possibly in several different locations and that “We would be left with no way to verify a voter’s identity.”
In fact, as Reiner and others have pointed out, HB1303 establishes new and better means for verifying voters’ identities, even if they register on Election Day. Among other things, every county clerk would have more immediate computer access to a variety of state and federal databases to verify identities and check criminal records. Gessler is unsure of that.
The bill was drafted by the County Clerks Association and voting-rights groups, albeit without Gessler’s participation, to make elections run more smoothly and to improve voter access and voting security.
It’s not a perfect bill, and some portions of it could stand to be improved.
But the notion that Reiner and other county clerks in the state — who answer directly to the citizens of their own counties — drafted the legislation and support it because they are engaged with Obama and Democrats “to undermine elections and allow rampant voter fraud” is laughable.
Citizens for Free and Fair Elections should stop hiding in the shadows and should publicly apologize to Reiner.