Scott Gessler’s voter-fraud bogeyman

Scott Gessler

Warning: Colorado elections may have been wrongly influenced by immigrants who registered and voted illegally.

But then again, probably not.

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has raised the specter of voter fraud in various forums this spring and summer. Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Sheila Reiner has become one of his most vocal critics, casting doubt on his claims.

Reiner so far offered the more compelling argument.

Gessler made a big splash back in March when he claimed as many as 11,800 immigrants may have improperly registered to vote in Colorado since 2006, and some of them voted. He based that number on a comparison between voter databases and driver’s license records. And he used it to push for legislation to give his office more authority over voter registration.

But he has repeatedly declined to give county clerks copies of that data so they can correct any registration errors. Reiner and others have questioned Gessler’s statements, with good reason.

It’s like your auto mechanic telling you there’s a serious problem with you car’s engine and it needs to be rebuilt, but refusing to show you the tests he conducted to reach that conclusion.

Gessler at first maintained he couldn’t turn the information over to county clerks because much of it came from a Department of Revenue database he obtained under a confidentiality agreement. More recently, he has said he’s researching the legal issues he says control disclosure of the data. But, while Reiner and others have pressed him for the data since March, they’ve received nothing.

Moreover, as we noted in an earlier editorial, he hasn’t been at all reluctant to use the numbers he supposedly obtained from that data — which no one else can verify — to garner publicity in Denver and Washington, D.C., and to push for legislation expanding the authority of his office.

Even he acknowledges that the number he initially released was probably too high, that subsequent re-examination of the data showed some of those he counted as illegally registered were actually U.S. citizens.

However, his repeated statement — that he’s certain the state has a problem with immigrants registering and voting illegally, he just doesn’t know the extent of it — strains belief.

If he really was worried about purported voter fraud, he would do everything he could to work with county clerks to purge illegally registered voters from their rolls.

Reiner doesn’t believe there is such a problem with voter fraud in Mesa County. While some immigrants may have mistakenly registered to vote when they obtained driver’s licenses, they likely didn’t do so intentionally and they probably didn’t vote, she said.

Reiner is blunt in her assessment of Gessler’s statements on immigration voter fraud. “I don’t believe what he’s claiming is true,” she said last week.

As Gessler continues to stall on sharing the data behind his claims, it looks increasingly like she is correct.


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