Wayne Williams, Unlikely GOP Voice of Reason

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

We’re in the odd position of complimenting Colorado’s Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams once again, as Williams again publicly disputes the unhinged accusations spewing from the Twitter account of the President-elect of the United States Donald Trump–as 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman reports:

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams (R) seemed puzzled Monday by President-elect Donald Trump’s false assertion that “millions” of votes were cast illegally in the election earlier this month.

“People don’t always clear every tweet with me,” Williams said of his own party’s leader when asked about the political wisdom of Trump casting doubt on an election he’s already won…

On Sunday afternoon, Trump made the baseless claim on Twitter that he “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

Williams says elections are not perfect, but said he’s seen no evidence of widespread fraud or mistakes in the American electoral system. [Pols emphasis]

We’ll admit that during Williams’ campaign for election for Secretary of State in 2014, we were not impressed by his rather feeble attempts to mimic his predecessor Scott “Honey Badger” Gessler’s rank partisanship in the then-fashionable trashing of Colorado’s 2013 election reform law. Since his election, however, Williams’ viewpoint on Colorado’s mail ballot system has brightened considerably. And as Trump ramped up his groundless accusations on the campaign trail this year that the “election is rigged,” Williams publicly disputed Trump, and assured the public that the election system both in Colorado and elsewhere was fundamentally sound.

While Williams has equivocated from time to time in an effort to not overly disparage his incoming fellow Republican President, and still fits his pet criticisms of election reform into the discussion where he can, comparing Williams’ relative honesty to the nonsensical field day Gessler would be having with Trump’s baseless allegations if he were still Secretary of State makes Williams look like an elder statesman.

And we’ll admit that is not something we would have predicted in 2014.

The Square Root of Gerrymandering

Good luck finding the "efficiency gap" in current legislative maps.

Finding the “efficiency gap” in the redistricting process could soon get much easier.

Michael Wines of the New York Times has a fascinating look at a new court ruling in Wisconsin that has the potential to dramatically change the process of redistricting/reapportionment across the country.

A panel of three federal judges ruled on Monday that the Wisconsin legislature relied upon unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering when it redrew state legislative districts in 2011.  The case could now move to the Supreme Court, where a new mathematical formula designed to measure partisan gerrymandering could significantly alter the next round of state redistricting/reapportionment in 2021. From the Times:

In Monday’s ruling, the court was swayed by a new and simple mathematical formula to measure the extent of partisan gerrymandering, called the efficiency gap. The formula divides the difference between the two parties’ “wasted votes” — votes beyond those needed by a winning side, and votes cast by a losing side — by the total number of votes cast. [Pols emphasis] When both parties waste the same number of votes, the result is zero — an ideal solution. But as a winning party wastes fewer and fewer votes than its opponent, its score rises.

A truly efficient gerrymander spreads a winning party’s votes so evenly over districts that very few votes are wasted. A review of four decades of state redistricting plans concluded that any party with an efficiency gap of 7 percent or more was likely to keep its majority during the 10 years before new districts were drawn.

In Wisconsin, experts testified, Republicans scored an efficiency gap rating of 11.69 percent to 13 percent in the first election after the maps were redrawn in 2011.

Some experts said the efficiency gap gives gerrymandering opponents their most promising chance yet to persuade a majority of the Supreme Court to limit partisan redistricting. [Pols emphasis]

The once-per-decade redistricting/reapportionment process is often a long, drawn-out (pun intended) process that involves months of legal wrangling from both sides of the political aisle. When it is done particularly poorly, as it was in the infamous 2003 “Midnight Gerrymandering” by Colorado Republicans, it can create deep political wounds that resonate for several election cycles.

We aren’t well-versed enough in election law to definitively say whether or not this “efficiency gap” calculation is the ideal approach for Colorado, but it would certainly be helpful if there were some sort of basic formula that every state could use when it begins the next redistricting/reapportionment process.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (November 10)

Get More SmarterThere are just 726 days until Election Day in 2018. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► If you still have a mail ballot at home, go ahead and fold that sucker into a neat paper airplane. Here are some paper airplane templates that may or may not work.

If you want to know what happened to all of those other ballots, the Secretary of State has updated ballot return numbers this morning.

 

► In a move that should come as a surprise to, well, nobody, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler made it known on Wednesday that he will likely seek the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton is among the Republicans who will also likely run for the big job in Colorado. On the Democratic side, look for names such as Ed PerlmutterKen SalazarCary Kennedy, and state Rep. Michael Johnston. We’ll have a new Big Line for 2018 next week.

 

► The next time you see a photograph of Donald Trump and Paul Ryan together will be the first time. As the Washington Post reports, “Trumpism” and “Ryanism” are on a political collision course:

Donald Trump will lunch with Paul Ryan at 12:30 p.m. at the Capitol Hill Club after he drops by the White House to meet with Barack Obama. The Speaker of the House declared at his post-election press conference yesterday that the president-elect has won “a mandate.” But a mandate for what?

Trump’s victory represents nothing less than a repudiation of Ryan’s brand of Republicanism, both substantively and stylistically. The two have sharply different views of what it means to be a conservative, and they want to take the Republican Party down different paths…

…There are many other issues on which Ryan and Trump disagree, such as eminent domain, but they are somewhat moot because they will not be on the docket in the next four years. As Jonathan Martin puts it in today’s New York Times, “Trump ran as a Republican, but he was effectively a third-party candidate who happened to campaign under the banner of one of the two major parties.”

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Election Results Post #1

9:12 pm: Mike Coffman defeats Morgan Carroll in CD-6.

—–

8:54 pm: Florida goes to Donald Trump.

—–

8:47 pm: Michael Bennet wins U.S. Senate race over GOP challenger Darryl Glenn.

—–

8:38 pm: In CO-3, Republican Scott Tipton appears to be well on his way to winning re-election over Democrat Gail Schwartz.

—–

8:35 pm: Democrats look likely to win most competitive State House seats.

—–

8:31 pm: Virginia and Colorado will go to Clinton.

—–

8:26 pm: CNN projects Donald Trump to win Ohio.

—–

8:21 pm: Amendment 70 (minimum wage increase) will pass in Colorado.

—–

8:18 pm: In key State Senate races in Colorado, a mixed bag so far. Democrats Rachel Zenzinger (SD-19) and Daniel Kagan (SD-26) are ahead, while Republican Kevin Priola leads Jenise May in SD-25.

—–

8:10 pm: Proposition 106 (end of life options) in Colorado will pass. Amendment 69 (single-payer health care) appears to be lost.

—–

8:08 pm: Clinton projected to win New Mexico.

—–

7:30 pm: Detroit Free Press calls Michigan for Hillary Clinton.

(more…)

Election Day Open Thread #2

UPDATE #5: Judge rejects motion from Democrats to extend voting times in Denver:

—–

UPDATE #4: Democrats get excited about reports that the state of Georgia is closer than expected, though Donald Trump is narrowly ahead:

—–

UPDATE #3: After an outage of the state’s voter registration system during the day, Democrats go to court to extend voting:

 

Voting hours have also been extended in a key North Carolina county (Durham) due to computer errors.

—–

UPDATE #2: Polls close at 5:00 (Mountain) in Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and the rest of Indiana/Kentucky.

—–

UPDATE: The Colorado Secretary of State’s office released new ballot return numbers this afternoon.

—–

Polls in parts of Indiana and Kentucky close at 6:00 Eastern time. Here we go…

 

Broomfield Voters Are Very Wise

Broomfield is #1…on this list. As “The Fix” reports, Broomfield voters are pretty good at predicting statewide election results if you compare election results from each county:

We looked at this at three levels: Closest to state results since 1960, closest since 1992 and closest in 2012. The 10 counties that have been closest to the state results on average since 1960:

1. Broomfield County, Colo.: 1.1 points average deviation from state
2. Burlington County, N.J.: 1.92 points
3. Beltrami County, Minn.: 2.03 points
4. Stutsman County, N.D.: 2.11 points
5. Poweshiek County, Iowa: 2.48 points

This is certainly interesting to note, though it is a bit misleading; the City and County of Broomfield wasn’t consolidated into one entity until 2001. But for what it’s worth, here’s how early voting looked in Broomfield as of this morning:

Democrats:    10,269
Republicans:  9,492
Unaffiliated:  10,614

So, there’s that.

Guess Who Hasn’t Voted Yet?

TUESDAY UPDATE: As of this morning, still no returned ballots for the Coffmans or Sen. Gardner.

—–

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) once promised to spill the beans on his choice for President “when ballots go out.” Denver Post reporter Jon Murray followed up with Coffman’s campaign recently to see if and when the Congressman would make his choice at the top of the ticket, and we’re still waiting:

(more…)

BREAKING: State Senate Control Hinges on This District…

Democrat Jenise May

Jenise May

Republican Rep. Kevin Priola

Kevin Priola

Control of the State Senate in 2016 appears as though it will be decided in SD-25 (Adams County), where Republican Rep. Kevin Priola is battling Democrat Jenise May for an open seat being vacated by the term-limited state Sen. Mary Hodge (D-Brighton).

Republicans have directed most of their financial resources in the last week toward SD-25 in hopes of propping up Priola’s sputtering campaign. Nevertheless, voter turnout numbers through Monday show Democrats with a nearly-2,000 vote lead in SD-25.

From everything we hear, Democrats appear to be in pretty good shape in the other two top-targeted State Senate races in SD-19 (Arvada/Westminster) and SD-26 (Cherry Hills). So long as Democratic voters turn out in decent numbers today, Democrats will net a one-seat advantage here (pickup in SD-19 and hold in SD-26), which would erase the one-seat lead for Republicans in the current State Senate makeup.

If May is able to hold of Priola in SD-25 today, Democrats should regain control of both chambers of the state legislature.

No pressure, or anything.

 

Ballot Returns Entering Election Day

UPDATE: Check out the ballot return figures in some of the most-watched races in Colorado today. Figures are accurate as of this morning:

Ballot return numbers through Monday, 11/7/16

Ballot return numbers through Monday, 11/7/16

—–

Here are the latest ballot return figures as of this morning:

 

Just Vote, Baby!

votebuttonRemember, friends don’t let friends try to mail their ballots today. All ballots must be RECEIVED by your county clerk by 7:00 pm tonight; postmarked ballots that do not arrive before this time will not be counted.

Check JustVoteColorado.org for more information on where to take your ballot or to find your nearest polling location. If you haven’t submitted your ballot or just can’t find it, you can still vote in person.

Colorado Republicans Fractured and Flummoxed

Colorado Republicans are having a hard-enough time convincing supporters to vote ONCE.

Colorado Republicans are having a hard-enough time convincing supporters to vote ONCE.

As Dave Weigel reports for the Washington Post today, there is a stark difference in Colorado when it comes to GOTV efforts that does not bode well for Republicans. As Weigel writes, Republicans “are counting on voters to come home; the Democrats are simply counting voters.”:

…The gap between strategies is visible everywhere, even at the early-vote rallies the parties have held to close the campaign. On Friday afternoon, former president Bill Clinton made three stops across the state, joined by Democratic leaders. The subject, each time, was how to turn in votes. Every attendee was given a sheet with possible volunteer times, and staff members flitted around to pick them up….

The same day, the campaign of Republican nominee Donald Trump sent two of its surrogates, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), to a faith group’s get-out-the-vote event in an Aurora senior living center. There was no one at the door urging people to volunteer. Two boxes of Trump campaign rally signs in the back of the room went largely untouched. In their speeches, Carson, Fallin and state party chairman Steve House focused less on the mechanics of the election than the need to defeat Clinton…

…Despite big victories in 2014, Colorado’s Republican Party has been riven by infighting, the cruelest of it pitting House against state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. Her husband, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (Colo.), represents a district that covers Aurora. He is one of a handful of Republicans running explicitly anti-Trump ads.

Well, would you look at that: Another Coffmangate reference!

Setting aside the infighting narrative for a moment, Republican problems with field operations in Colorado (and across the country) have been a consistent theme in 2016. The GOP has had serious problems with its turnout operation in Colorado for several cycles now, and as Weigel’s story shows, not much has been done to address the issue. This was the first election cycle we can recall in which Republicans did not outpace Democrats in early voting returns, which is a problem even without a Republican Presidential nominee who is about as interested in field operations as he is in fact-checking.

You can certainly blame an enthusiasm gap for some of the GOP’s voter turnout problems, but polls have shown that Democrats aren’t all that thrilled about Hillary Clinton, either. For whatever reason, Colorado Republicans just aren’t adapting to the changing electorate in Colorado.

Mike Coffman Must Have Forgotten About the Presidential Race

You didn't think I was really going to answer that question, did you?

You didn’t think I was really going to answer that question, did you?

Once upon a time…

…Or on September 15, 2016, if we’re being specific, Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) promised to tell his constituents which candidate he would be choosing in the race for President. Here’s precisely what Coffman campaign spokesperson Cinamon Watson told the Denver Post for a story appearing on Sept. 15:

“He plans on watching the debates and making a decision when ballots go out.”

Well, ballots goed out on October 17th, and Coffman has yet to articulate on his preferred selection in the race for President. On October 18th, Coffman did tell 9News that he wasn’t sure if he would even vote in the Presidential race at all, but that’s all we know to this point. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has not forgotten about Coffman’s promise, and neither has the Huffington Post:

With just days until election day, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) still won’t say whether he’ll vote for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump

…Several Republicans in tight reelection races have taken a similar position to Toomey and declined to reveal if they intend to vote for Trump. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) won’t say who he is voting for, and Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), who is running for Senate, has said voters don’t have a right to know who he is voting for.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) said he would let voters know if he was voting for Trump by the time voting ballots went out in his state. But Coffman still has yet to say if he would vote for Trump ―  and ballots went out on Oct. 17.

Coffman’s continued silence on the Presidential race is particularly absurd given that attorneys representing his campaign regularly demand that media outlets “cease and desist” from running advertisements suggesting that Coffman is a Trump supporter. Coffman could kill two birds with one stone here — fulfilling his promise to say who he will support for President and making it clear that he is voting for someone else — but like many other Colorado Republicans, he is petrified of further alienating diehard Trump backers whose support he still needs if he hopes to win re-election.

In case Coffman has just forgotten about the Presidential race, we’d like to remind him that there are 24 other Presidential candidates on the ballot in Colorado whose last names do not rhyme with “Trump” or “Clinton.”

Where’s the Votes?

We’ve been updating you regularly on the rate of ballot returns in Colorado, and the news has been pretty consistent: Democrats have been returning ballots at a greater rate than Republicans from wire-to-wire. This is an early voting advantage that has always favored Republicans in Colorado, so the fact that Democrats are ahead at all in pre-Election Day voting is significant news.

According to the latest ballot return figures provided by the Secretary of State’s office, Republicans are starting to catch up, albeit slowly:

Democrats:     508,938
Republicans:  494,757
Unaffiliated:   383,275
TOTAL:          1,406,573

Without enough context, these numbers leave a lot of room for speculation. Where are the rest of the votes? In which counties should we expect to see the largest increases through Election Day? Where in the hell is Hinsdale County?

To help answer those questions, we made a chart:

Colorado ballot return comparison

What does this all mean? That depends on which prior election year you use for comparison’s sake, though any comparison would be difficult given that this is the first year in history that Colorado is an all-mail ballot state in a Presidential cycle.

Since this is a Presidential election year, and since mail ballots should theoretically increase turnout, it’s probably best to compare 2016 turnout with 2012; in that case, it looks like voters in the most populous counties in Colorado are only about halfway to their projected totals. This is likely good news for Democrats, because historically it is Democrats who have usually turned out in greater numbers the closer we get to Election Day.

So, if you’ve volunteered for get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts this weekend, your work will not be in vain. Also, this chart is worthless if you want to find Hinsdale County.

Throwback Thursday: Denver Post, October 31st, 1910

Here’s a blast from Colorado’s pre-election past that was forwarded to us today: the front page of our own Denver Post from Halloween 1910:

fullsizerender-4

As the editorial cartoon you can see above depicts, the Post supported Referendum 3, the Colorado Initiative and Referendum Rights Amendment giving Colorado voters the right to amend the state’s constitution by popular initiative as a check against special interest control of the legislative process.

106 years later as the state votes on a measure to limit constitutional amendments, we could see the same cartoon being relevant with only minor edits.

Poll: Will Amendment 71 Pass?

With the 2016 elections less than one week away, we’re rolling out informal, highly unscientific polls of our readers to gauge where key races and ballot measures stand. As always with our reader polls, we’re looking for your honest prediction–not your personal preference.

Amendment 71 would tighten the requirements to qualify and pass constitutional amendment ballot measures. The amendment gives 1/35th of the state’s population veto power over ballot measures, and raise the threshold for passage to 55%.

Will Amendment 71 pass?
Yes
No
View Result