UPDATE: A stunning disclosure from Wayne Williams’ office today that could raise many more questions:
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has notified the Denver district attorney that a petition circulator turned in the signature of a deceased voter.
Williams learned about the deceased voter when he was informed today that an elections staffer had been notified in mid-April there might be problems with petitions collected by circulator Maureen Moss, who turned in signatures some voters now say were forged…
The administration was unaware of the communication, and first learned about alleged forgeries on Moss’ petitions through news reports.
“As soon as I was made aware of this, I directed my staff to refer the matter of the deceased voter to the district attorney,” Williams said Tuesday.
Understand this, folks–GOP Secretary of State Wayne Williams is admitting his office had evidence of petition fraud a month ago, but claims that nobody brought it to his personal attention? If signatures belonging to the dead aren’t enough to raise alarms at the Secretary of State’s office, what on earth is? How could an elections staffer at the Secretary of State’s office be warned about potential fraud, and then fail to pass that information on? How can voters be expected to have confidence in this process?
This latest revelation helps explain why Williams is so nonchalant (below) about Jon Keyser’s petition forgery crisis, but it is totally unacceptable–and raises very serious questions about the competency of Williams’ office.
Correction: we hope it’s just incompetence.
Colorado’s Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams hasn’t developed a reputation as a flagrantly partisan chief elections officer quite like his predecessor Scott “Honey Badger” Gessler did. The at-length controversy playing out over Republican U.S. Senate primary ballot petitions has put considerable strain on that office’s limited resources, but we haven’t seen anything that we can directly call out as evidence of partisan dirty dealing in Williams’ handling of the situation. It should be remembered, after all, that it was Williams’ office who originally ruled insider-favored candidate Jon Keyser’s petitions insufficient for the ballot.
We’re obliged to note, however, that even as the scandal over Keyser’s apparently forged ballot petitions has escalated, Williams’ office has consistently stated that they have no investigative powers beyond the prescribed reviews of submitted petitions they already undertake. Anything beyond that is supposedly “beyond their scope.”
Unless, as CBS4’s Shaun Boyd reports, it isn’t!
Secretary of State Wayne Williams said if signatures were forged on petitions for Keyser, chances are the campaign wasn’t aware.
“There is no indication that I have seen that any of the campaigns themselves knew of that,” Williams said. “Typically it’s a subcontractor of a contractor of a candidate, and so you don’t have an actual causal effect from the campaign.”
Regardless of what the district attorney decides, Williams says it’s highly unlikely Keyser would be disqualified.
“If additional information were introduced in respect to any of the candidates, they would then still have the ability to say, ‘Yes, but you disqualified this other section which should have been counted,’” Williams said.
Got that? Secretary of State Williams is apparently qualified to make very broad assumptions in this case, which even criminal investigators have yet to establish any basis for–investigators conducting the kind of investigation Williams has repeatedly insisted his office doesn’t do.
And yet he’s suddenly qualified to declare there’s nothing to see?
The second and much more obvious problem here is that the Secretary of State is tacitly saying that petition fraud doesn’t matter. It’s no big deal, because hey, Keyser could always get more signatures that were originally thrown out (by Williams) to count again. Never mind, you know, the fraud.
We may find at the end of this story that in our election law as it exists today, there is no adequate legal remedy for a candidate to who makes the ballot and is later found to have done so via petition fraud. That too has yet to be determined with certainty. But even if that were true, that doesn’t make petition fraud okay–and it certainly is not okay for our state’s chief elections officer to downplay it, even if it’s his party that takes the fall.
Don’t go all “Honey Badger” on us now, Mr. Secretary.