Bernie Buescher for Secretary of State
When Bernie Buescher became Colorado Secretary of State early in 2009, the office was at loggerheads with many of the county clerks around the state, due to actions of his predecessor on voting machines and other issues.
Democrat Buescher immediately worked to improve the important relationship between his office and the clerks. He was largely successful, and it is one of several reasons Buesher deserves to be elected to the office to which he was appointed.
Buesher is well-known in Mesa County. He served four years as a state representative from House District 55, until his defeat by Republican Laura Bradford in 2008. He’s also been a practicing attorney, leader of a large company and been involved in a host of civic activities in this community.
His opponent, Republican Scott Gessler of Denver, is an attorney who was a prosecutor in Washington, D.C., before he moved to Colorado 14 years ago. Since then, election law has become the mainstay of his legal practice. He clearly understands the election laws the secretary of state must follow and enforce.
Gessler’s major beef with Buescher involves how best to maintain fair and secure elections. He has attacked Buescher because he sought a waiver — eventually denied — from the federal law requiring election ballots to be mailed to military personnel overseas 45 days before the general election.
Buescher’s reasonable response is that the limited time between Colorado’s Aug. 10 primary and the general election, combined with legal time requirements for certifying ballots after the primary, made meeting the 45-day mandate problematic. But Gessler argues that Buescher should have attacked the problem earlier, rather than waiting until summer to seek a waiver.
Gessler also disagrees with Buescher’s push for greater use of mail-in ballots for elections. And he takes strong issue with Buescher’s opposition to requiring photo IDs for voter registration, and Buescher’s support earlier this year for a measure that would have allowed voter registration on Election Day.
On these issues, we agree with Gessler. Same-day voter registration is a prescription for more voting problems. And a law requiring a photo ID to vote, when we require similar identification to cash a check or board an airplane, is hardly oppressive. Photo ID requirements have not decreased voter turnout in other states.
But Buescher also has a solid record of working with lawmakers to improve election-related issues such as campaign-finance filings and compliance with federal law. And he has eliminated duplicate voter registrations that had built up over many years.
Buescher has done well with other functions of his office. Even Gessler says, “I think Bernie has done a pretty good job” maintaining the business component of the office. The website to file and update documents for businesses is among the best in the country.
Buescher has also instituted an online voter registration system. And he has worked with Republican Attorney General John Suthers to develop a system to let people examine data on charitable organizations before they contribute to them.
Coloradans should allow Buescher to continue these efforts by electing him to a full, four-year term as secretary of state.