Poll: Will Propositions 107, 108 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.

Propositions 107 and 108 would change the process for primary elections in Colorado. Proposition 107 would restore the presidential primary election following general chaos during this year’s presidential caucusing on both sides. Proposition 108 is more complicated, allowing unaffiliated voters to participate in primary elections that were previously the exclusive domain of registered party voters.

One poll for each proposition follows. Happy voting!

Will Proposition 107 pass?
Will Proposition 108 pass?

“Grassroots” Amendment 71 Campaign: Too Clever By Half

amendment71Denver7’s Marshall Zelinger reports on a misfire from the campaign to pass Amendment 71, the “Raise The Bar” measure to make it harder to to amend the state’s constitution:

Voters in Centennial alerted Denver7 to a hand-delivered flyer that some felt was über personal.

The flyers were in envelopes that appeared to be handwritten.

“It looked like it was an envelope from a neighbor,” said Centennial voter Mickki Langston. “I had just opened the door in the morning, and it fell. My immediate thought was, ‘Oh, there’s a neighbor who actually cares about this amendment.”

The envelope contains information from “Raise the Bar,” the group in support of Amendment 71. The amendment would make it more difficult to amend the state’s constitution by changing the requirements for signature collection and the overall vote.

The outside of the envelope reads: “Im (sic) your neighbor and Amendment 71 is important to me. I hope you’ll VOTE YES on Amendment 71!” It appears to be handwritten. Some of the ones delivered in Centennial had “Joey K” actually handwritten at the bottom.

But on closer analysis, there was little if anything “handwritten” about these notes:

“That just feels dishonest,” said Langston. “What bothers me is the irony of a campaign that is about preventing grassroots change using pretend grassroots tactics.”

Not only are the “handwritten” notes not authentic, being mass printed in a typeface that resembles handwriting, but the story of these fake “personal” messages provides a nice segue into the Yes on Amendment 71’s dubious claim to be “grassroots” at all:

“Raise the Bar” has received $5.1 million in contributions. Of that, about $160,000 is from 114 individuals who contributed $250 or less. The rest of the money is from corporations and businesses. More than $3 million has come from oil and gas companies. [Pols emphasis]

And that, dear reader, is how an idea that sounds good in the strategy session goes to hell in the execution.

Postal Workers Beg Trump To Shut The Hell Up

UPDATE: Statement from Doug Jaynes, president of the Colorado chapter of the National Letter Carriers’ Association:

“Postal workers take great pride in the integral role we play in Colorado’s election process. We are proud to play a part in ensuring that every Colorado voter, from the Front Range to the Western Slope, can cast their vote, knowing their ballot will be safely delivered by Colorado’s letter carriers and other postal employees – just as we have sworn under our oath of office to protect and uphold the Constitution.

Donald Trump’s attacks on the integrity of Colorado’s postal employees – nearly a quarter of whom are veterans – are offensive and insulting. He owes the thousands of dedicated Coloradans who uphold the integrity of our state’s elections an apology.”

—–

tossing-the-mail-awayThe Denver Post’s John Aguilar reports on yesterday’s response by Colorado postal workers to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s suggestion that they might trash ballots from conservative voters:

The head of the union representing postal carriers, accompanied by an energized Gov. John Hickenlooper, on Monday denounced remarks made by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump over the weekend that raised questions about the integrity of Colorado’s mail-ballot election.

Doug Jaynes, the president of the Colorado State Association of Letter Carriers, called Trump’s remarks during a Saturday rally in Golden in which the candidate talked about mailed-in ballots being potentially thrown away an “insult” to his profession.

“It’s so important that people don’t get concerned that their ballots aren’t safe,” Jaynes told a small gathering of Hillary Clinton supporters at a Democratic campaign office in Lakewood…

Gov. John Hickenlooper punched one of the more obvious holes in Trump’s logic:

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, touted the integrity of the U.S. Postal Service and asked in a scoffing tone how postal carriers would even know which ballots to discard if they were engaged in such activity.

“What do they have — X-ray eyes?” he asked, to laughter in the room. [Pols emphasis]

Of course, all of this is only funny if you’re not one of the people who believe Trump unquestioningly when he claims the election is “rigged” nationwide and especially here in Colorado. If you do believe Trump, you consider postal workers, Democrats at every level of government, and apparently even Republicans in an election supervisory role in our state to all be in on some kind of massive conspiracy.

Given the fact that postal letter carriers are out by themselves in the community every day, and already have to contend with unruly dogs trying to shred their ankles among other occupational hazards, you can understand why they don’t want the burning rage of Trumpmerica shadowing their every step. Especially after next Tuesday.

So for the record, neither postal workers, Republican county clerks, our Republican Secretary of State, nor anybody else who may be in lawful contact with your mail ballot once it leaves your physical custody has any desire to trash it.

Please share this important message with your friends.

Trump Questions Colorado Elections While Local Officials Fume

Donald Trump knows this much about Colorado elections.

Donald Trump knows this much about Colorado elections.

CNN reports from GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s rally in Greeley yesterday:

Donald Trump for the second day in a row questioned the validity of this swing state’s largely mail-in voting system, the latest instance of the Republican nominee expressing skepticism about the legitimacy of the electoral process.

Trump kicked off his rally here on Sunday by encouraging his supporters to “make sure” their ballots are properly counted, saying that he is a “skeptical person” when it comes to the state’s largely vote-by-mail process. He then encouraged his supporters to get a “new ballot” in person at a local polling location.

“They’ll give you a ballot, a new ballot. They’ll void your old ballot, they will give you a new ballot. And you can go out and make sure it gets in,” Trump said…

“In some places they probably do that four or five times. We don’t do that. But that’s great,” Trump said Sunday, appearing to hint at the possibility of voter fraud in Colorado, a rare prospect Trump has continued to hammer on the stump.

The spokesperson for Colorado’s Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams could not be any clearer with her response:

bartelselection

The Denver Post’s John Frank adds:

Reacting to Trump, Denver elections chief Amber McReynolds said Sunday the current mail-ballot process includes more checks than prior presidential elections.

“From my perspective, it’s just a lack of understanding of all the safeguards and all the processes that we have in Colorado,” she said. [Pols emphasis]

Trump’s “lack of understanding” about how elections work, either in Colorado or anywhere else, is nonetheless fueling a fresh round of conspiracy-making among Republicans bracing themselves for what may well be an historic defeat next week–and in the context of Trump’s vague threats to not respect the results of the election, a potentially scary development. As a Republican in the position of presiding his first statewide election this year, we have real sympathy for Secretary of State Williams and his longsuffering spox. Williams has to do the responsible thing, which is reassure the voters of Colorado that the system is sound, while not becoming too vocal in criticizing his party’s presidential nominee. It’s a tough needle to thread.

Is there more Williams could be doing to call out Trump’s baseless falsehoods about our elections? Probably. Is he doing more to combat this misinformation than his predecessor Scott “Honey Badger” Gessler would have done? Definitely–and that’s to Williams’ profound credit.

For the next week, we think one of the most important things every one of us who understands that our elections are not under threat from any kind of systemic fraud can do is tell everyone you know. Especially the people you know who are kind of, you know, unhinged. By openly attacking the election system just before an election he is likely to lose, Trump is playing with fire in a way we haven’t seen in American politics…maybe ever.

No one should be helping Trump undermine confidence in our most precious of institutions, and we’re relieved to see that Williams has this measure of integrity.

A Dozen People Voting Twice: Time To Panic! (Not Really)

Not recommended.

Not recommended.

As Election Day approaches and Republican electoral prospects get bleaker for a host of reasons that have nothing to do with the mechanics of voting, a significant number of (generally) conservative voters have sought consolation in speculation about the possibility of widespread vote fraud that might taint the results. These theories have been greatly boosted by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s oft-repeated claims that the election is “rigged,” and his refusal to promise to accept the results even if they’re adverse to him.

In Colorado, we’ve been dealing with allegations of “widespread election fraud” from Republican politicos for many years, particularly since former Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler made nationwide headlines with his subsequently debunked claims that “tens of thousands” of people had voted illegally in Colorado. In truth only a small number of cases were ever referred to prosecutors, and of those the vast majority were explainable by mundane circumstances.

In late September, CBS4 Denver’s Brian Maass reported that he had found a handful of cases in which registered voters who were deceased had ballots turned in after their deaths. The story spread rapidly in conservative media, and quickly lost any realistic sense of the scope of the problem–which was, again, maybe half a dozen cases in a state with 3.7 million registered voters.

To be clear, nobody should be happy about any case of vote fraud, but if the remedy for the problem uncovered would prevent more people from voting than what we’re seeing in cases of alleged fraud, the cure would be worse than the disease. And the debate isn’t occurring in a vacuum, because one side has consistently worked to roll back all kinds of voting reforms from early voting to mail ballots–not to prevent fraud, but to make it harder for voters demographically opposed to them to vote.

With all of this in mind, Maass ran another story last night, with a dozen (that’s twelve) anecdotal cases of Colorado voters allegedly voting twice:

An ongoing CBS4 voter fraud investigation has uncovered a dozen cases where Coloradans are suspected of voting twice. Previous CBS4 Investigations revealed ballots cast in the names of Coloradans who had been dead for months– sometimes years- before votes were cast in their names.

In six of the new cases, voting records show the same people voting twice in Colorado elections. In another six cases, people are suspected of voting in Colorado and another state during the same election cycle.

The cases of Colorado voters voting both in our state and another state appear to originate with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Kobach is almost as notorious as Scott Gessler for making sweeping statements about supposed vote fraud that don’t hold up under scrutiny. But in these instances, there do appear to be a few individuals who tried to vote in his state and in Colorado.

And in most cases they’re being prosecuted. Colorado and Kansas both participate in a voter verification system that checks the rolls in participating states for duplicates–in most cases, completely uncontroversial duplicates resulting from people moving without updating their registration. As Maas reports, some states don’t participate in that system, and CBS4 found a few Colorado voters also registered in other states who may have voted twice. The cases CBS4 disclosed details on are not exclusively with any one party–both Republicans and Democrats apparently did it.

As we said, no one is going to argue that such cases should be ignored. Especially in close elections, it doesn’t take much of this kind of shenanigans to potentially affect the result. But there is no rational way to aggregate these few cases of individuals attempting to beat the system into anything that could be considered a threat to our elections. There are safeguards against this kind of criminal behavior, and reforms that would make it harder to cheat need not make it harder to vote.

And no matter how deep your denial may be, this isn’t why Donald Trump is going to lose.

Why it’s a bad idea to explain how you’d cheat the election system, especially if you’re CO’s Secretary of State

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Appearing on KNUS 710-AM Oct. 22, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams explained to host Chuck Bonniwell and co-host Julie Hayden how he’d commit election fraud, if Williams were a bad guy, an “unethical Democrat,” as Boniwell put it.

Bonniwell: What would you do if you were a nefarious person trying to cheat the Colorado System? …This is what I would do. I’m not going to. I’m not saying I would do it. But if I were an unethical Democrat trying to rig the system, what would you tell them? How would you do it? You wouldn’t do it, but just to help [inaudible]. What would you do to corrupt the system?

Williams: If I were advising someone, it would not be through the system of online voter registration, because you got to have a driver’s license for that. The easiest way to do that in Colorado is you go in with a non-verifiable ID, a utility bill, and register to vote using that. And you cast a ballot with that. That’s why I think we need photo ID. I have testified asking the legislature to pass photo ID when I was a county commissioner, when I was a county clerk, when I was secretary of state. And they’ve never done it.

Williams said 50 Colorado voters, who registered and voted same day, later did return a post card from the address provided, raising questions about who they were and where they went. But this is light years away from proving that fraud was committed, and it’s consistent with how many citizens live. That is, they move a lot.

In fact, voter fraud has not been shown to be an almost nonexistent problemin states like Colorado that don’t require photo idea. A recent Loyala study gives you the details. In the wake of Trump’s accusations about voter fraud, media outlets across the country have confirmed that voter fraud is a nonissue in the U.S.

And Williams didn’t discuss the flip side, namely that photo ID laws stop legitimate voters from casting ballots. In nine states that passed such laws, it’s estimated that over 3 million voters will be affected.  That’s the real issue here.

(more…)

Left and right agree: vote NO on Amendment 71

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Meet one of Colorado’s most conservative Republicans, Rep. Justin Everett.

And one of his most liberal colleagues in the Colorado legislature, Rep. Joseph Salazar.

Everett and Salazar don’t agree on much. But one thing they do agree on: vote NO on Amendment 71.

Ballot Returns in Colorado Continue to Favor Democrats

Colorado Statesman reporter Ernest Luning has been diligently tracking ballot returns since ballots were first mailed last Monday. Today, Luning provides some important historical context:

(BTW: If you’re interested in regular updates on this topic, we’d suggest you follow Luning on Twitter: @eluning)

We’ve been marveling at the rate of ballot returns for Democrats since numbers first started to emerge last week, and now even Republican strategists are getting nervous. From Jon Murray of the Denver Post:

Right-leaning political consulting/polling firm Magellan Strategies has been poring over ballot returns today, and they don’t have good news for Republicans:

As of this morning, the total number of ballots returned is 287,854, an increase of 128,959 from yesterday morning’s tally. The increase in ballots returned among Democrat voters since yesterday morning was 55,476, bringing their current total to 118,444. The Republican ballot return total increased by 39,779, bringing their total to 94,734. If you do the math, the Democrat advantage over Republicans in ballots returned is now 23,710, nearly triple since yesterdays lead.

Based on our 10 years of experience tracking early and absentee voting in Colorado, it’s very clear that a Democrat wave election is in the making. Although there is still a lot of time before Election Day, Colorado Democrats have never had an early voting lead this large with two weeks to go. [Pols emphasis] In the 2008 election two weeks prior to Election Day, Democrats held an early turnout lead of 2,987 votes. (184,386 Democrats had voted / 181,399 Republicans had voted). In the 2012 election with two weeks to go, Republicans held a lead of 11,798 votes. (72,585 Democrats had voted / 84, 383 Republicans had voted.)

We’ve been saying for awhile in this space that we can’t recall another time when Democrats were continually outpacing Republicans in early voting. There’s not really much of a question that Colorado Republicans, by and large, do not appear to be enthusiastic about casting ballots this year; the key question at this point is just how bad turnout might get in the next 14 days.

Colorado Republicans Can Start to Panic Now

votebuttonLongtime Colorado political journalist Ernest Luning has been keeping track of ballot return figures via his Twitter account. This is not good for Republicans:

The last time that Democrats were this far ahead of Republicans in Colorado in early voting returns was…well, maybe never.

The biggest fear for the GOP in 2016 has always been that a terrible top of the ticket — headlined by Donald Trump and Darryl Glenn — would be so disinteresting/disgusting that otherwise reliable Republican voters just wouldn’t bother to vote at all. Right-leaning political pundits have been saying for months that Republican voters could save down-ballot candidates by splitting their ticket at the polls, but that was assuming Republican voters would actually, you know, fill in the bubbles on their ballot.

If this trend continues in Colorado through Election Day, Republican candidates are going to be wiped out across the board. Perhaps the Trump campaign would have been better off staffing their field offices with people who are old enough to drive a car. 

The Greenpeace Blimp: No on Amendment 71

Colorado Initiative 71 Message

The Greenpeace Thermal Airship A.E. Bates takes to the skies over Colorado on October 20, 2016 urging Coloradans to Vote No Initiative 71, or Raise the Bar, which would place a cumbersome burden on citizens wishing to participate in the ballot initiative process. Raise the bar is largely funded and promoted by the oil and gas industry. Photo by Bob Pearson/Greenpeace

The Greenpeace Thermal Airship A.E. Bates takes to the skies over Colorado on October 20, 2016 urging Coloradans to Vote No on Initiative 71, or Raise the Bar, which would place a cumbersome burden on citizens wishing to participate in the ballot initiative process. Raise the bar is largely funded and promoted by the oil and gas industry. Photo by Bob Pearson/Greenpeace

A press release from Greenpeace USA–look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane!

Greenpeace flew its thermal airship this morning over the Denver and Boulder area urging Coloradans to vote no on Amendment 71, or “Raise the Bar,” which benefits wealthy interests while shutting those without significant funds out of the ballot initiative process. “Raise the Bar” is largely funded and promoted by the oil and gas industry and is opposed by a broad and unlikely coalition.

The airship messages read “Vote no 71” on one side and “Don’t let BIG $$$ rig our democracy” on the other.

“Big corporations and industries hungry for more political power are trying to rig our democracy. If Amendment 71 passes, it will become much more difficult for everyday Coloradans to put forward ballot initiatives on everything from education to healthcare to protecting the natural beauty of our state,” said Diana Best, a Denver-based Senior Campaigner for Greenpeace USA’s Climate and Energy team. “The oil and gas industry and other wealthy interests, who are bankrolling Amendment 71, are hoping to take people’s voices out of our democracy, but Coloradans won’t easily be silenced.”

Amendment 71 would change the way Colorado’s ballot process has functioned for the last 100 years, requiring 2 percent approval in each of the 35 state Senate districts for an initiative to qualify for the ballot, and raising the minimum voter approval to 55 percent of votes cast. The Denver Post, which has come out in opposition to 71, estimates that it takes about $1 million for an initiative to make it on the Colorado ballot. Raise the Bar would increase that amount significantly, creating a barrier to entry that keeps most Coloradans shut out of the process.

“Colorado voters have seen how big money can drown out of the voices of the people in the political process. When that happens, the ballot initiative process is an opportunity for the people to address important issues. We should be making it easier for people to have their voices heard, not putting the constitution off limits to all but the wealthiest special interests,” said Common Cause Colorado Executive Director Elena Nunez.

Amendment 71 was written by Vital for Colorado, a front group for the oil and gas industry with ties to the billionaire Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Noble Energy, and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

The No on Amendment 71 coalition is indeed one of the broader and more “unlikely” coalitions, with groups from left to right banding together to protect citizen participation in lawmaking via the initiative process:

noon71

If anybody gets a picture of the Independence Institute’s Jon Caldara in the Greenpeace blimp, please forward. We want that photo for posterity.

Remember, Ix-Nay on the Allot-Bay Elfie-Say!

This is a crime in Colorado.

This is a crime in Colorado.

Denver DA Mitch Morrissey’s press release today might come as a surprise to voters across Colorado eagerly snapping photos of their completed ballot for this or that candidate, and posting them on social media for posterity:

REMINDER: BALLOT SELFIES ARE ILLEGAL IN COLORADO

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey is reminding voters that there is a state law prohibiting voters from showing their completed ballot to others. This would include posting your completed ballot on social media.

Colorado is one of many states that ban a ballot selfie. The law, found at §1-13-712 in the Colorado Revised Statutes, states that, “No voter shall show his ballot after it is prepared for voting to any person in such a way as to reveal its contents.” It is a misdemeanor violation.

The prohibition on sharing completed ballot results is an effort to guard against potential voter fraud.

The thinking behind making it a crime to show your completed ballot to another person is to prevent voters from selling their votes in any verifiable way. If you can’t legally show someone your completed “secret” ballot, you can’t prove beyond a doubt how you voted. That’s the theory, anyway, though there’s a good argument that this prohibition is a little anachronistic in the age of mail ballots and smartphones.

What say you, Polsters? Have you already broken this law without knowing? Would you like to show your completed ballot to the world for purely honorable reasons? Are you one of these mythical bad guys looking to buy some photo-verified votes?

Actually, on the latter maybe don’t tell us–click here and tell the proper authorities instead.

Got Ballot?

votebuttonColorado is an all-mail ballot state this election cycle. Ballots began going out in the mail on Monday, so many of you might be able to vote as soon as today.

Have you received your ballot yet? Please let us know in the comments section below. Don’t forget to include your city or county of residence.

We’re curious to see when and where ballots are starting to arrive, and we know Colorado Pols readers are certainly paying attention.

2016’s Most Knowingly False Accusation Takes Nasty Racist Turn

We’ve talked a number of times about a specific line of attack targeting Democratic SD-19 candidate Rachel Zenzinger, falsely alleging that Zenzinger had “voted to use taxpayer money on a trip to China” while serving as an Arvada city councillor. As Politifact Colorado and every other objective look at this accusation has found, it’s completely false: not only did Zenzinger never visit China, she introduced the motion barring the use of taxpayer dollars on any such trip.

The “China Girl” attack on Zenzinger was thoroughly debunked by in 2014 when it was originally used, which made its recycling in 2016 much more arguably a case of making a knowingly false statement in a political ad–a crime under Colorado law.

Regardless, this week the organization responsible for the ad ruled “Pants on Fire” by Politifact Colorado, Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government,  sent another mail piece to SD-19 voters making the same false charge:

chinagirl3

Now, the first problem with this mail piece is the eye-poppingly racist Photoshopping of a traditional Vietnamese straw hat, known as a non la, onto Rachel Zenzinger’s head. We shouldn’t even have to point out that this ad is about an alleged trip to China, which is not Vietnam, and they in fact wear different straw hats in China.

We assume nobody at Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government could, you know, tell the difference.

But as bad as the racism in this latest mail piece is, that may not even be the worst part. Looking closely at this ad, you can see they quote the Mayor of Arvada, Marc Williams. The citation for that quote on this mailer is “Channel 7 News, Denver, 7/5/16.”

Understand this, folks: that’s Politifact Colorado’s fact-check! The one that ruled this claim “Pants on Fire” false! The mailer conveniently omits the rest of Williams’ statement in that story:

[Williams] stressed that she also made the subsequent successful motion “with the explicit direction that no city funds be used.” [Pols emphasis]

This mail piece was produced after Politifact Colorado’s July 5th fact-check of CCAG’s previous mailer on the same subject. That means that Sen. Laura Woods’ allies at CCAG read that fact-check, disregarded its conclusion, and used a hacked-up quote for it to further mislead voters about the same completely debunked charge.

The only reasonable conclusion with all these facts in mind is that CCAG knows they are lying, and are overtly contemptuous of the media’s ability to correct the record. They have concluded that more voters will see their false accusation than will ever see the debunking, and they simply have no sense of accountability to anyone. We can’t imagine what Alan Gathright and the folks at Politifact will say about being given this brazen middle finger by a major Republican 527, but that’s obviously what they’re doing.

If that is not outrageous to every voter on an objective level, we don’t know what is. And if there was ever a case ripe for prosecution under Colorado’s much-debated law against knowingly lying in our elections, this has to be it.

Dead Voters? Oh My! Oh, Wait.

Young-voter-via-ShutterstockLate last month, CBS4 Denver’s Brian Maass ran a story that’s been stirring a great deal of alarm among the right wing’s perennial “vote fraud” conspiracy theorists–a report that identified a handful of cases, in which voters in Colorado who were deceased had votes cast in their name:

A CBS4 investigation has found multiple cases of dead men and women voting in Colorado months and in some cases years after their deaths, a revelation that calls into question safeguards designed to prevent such occurrences…

The cases of dead men and women casting ballots ranged from El Paso County in southern Colorado to Denver and Jefferson County. CBS4 discovered the fraudulent voting by comparing databases of voting histories in Colorado against a federal death database.

The CBS4 investigation has triggered criminal investigations in El Paso and Jefferson counties along with a broad investigation by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

“It’s not a perfect system. There are some gaps,” acknowledged Williams.

The story’s lede used the word “multiple” to describe the number of cases of dead voters casting ballots, though the original story described four such cases–and none newer than 2013. One of those cases was later explained by a clerical error. Last night, a followup report from Maass announced with great fanfare the discovery of one additional case:

An ongoing CBS4 Investigation into dead voters in Colorado has turned up another dead voter — this time in Larimer County.

“I don’t think it was an accident,” said Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Angela Myers, who acknowledged she found the most recent dead voter after the initial CBS4 Investigation entitled “Dying To Vote,” which aired last month. That initial investigation found a handful of votes cast in the names of dead Coloradans months, and sometimes years, after they died.

Myers said following that report, the Secretary of State sent her a list of deceased voters to double check.

“We did find a single deceased voter,” she said, “and unfortunately it was counted.”

That brings the total number of “dead voters” discovered in Colorado to either four or five depending on whether you count the original report that turned out to be incorrect. That means several weeks of heightened scrutiny of voter registrations after the first CBS4 report resulted in only one additional case of a dead person “voting.”

On October 1st, Colorado had 3,756,564 registered voters.

To be sure, there is no responsible argument that these four or five cases of probable vote fraud should be ignored–not even literal one-in-a-million cases as these appear to be. Vote fraud is a crime, and especially in a mail ballot election system like Colorado’s it’s important  that any violators be swiftly prosecuted to the limit of the law. That is being done right now with these cases, as clerks work through the information they’ve been given and refer findings to prosecutors.

But never mind all that boring factual stuff, folks! The conservative media has its own version:

votefraudheadlines

Brian Maass and CBS4 deserve some criticism for the ridiculous hyperbole flooding the conservative media today based on his report of four or five “dead voters” among nearly four million registered voters in Colorado. Maass’ reporting intentionally downplayed the actual number of cases, using words like “multiple” when “several” or even the correct single-digit number would have been more accurate–if less sensational. But the bigger problem is with the conservative media outlets completely untethered by a need for accuracy who distorted Maass’ report into something vastly worse than the facts support.

Williams said measures implemented in 2015 should reduce the number of dead voters casting ballots in Colorado, [Pols emphasis] but he noted that the CBS4 investigation indicates further measures might be necessary.

Yes, any improperly cast vote is a problem. But as you can see from the actual numbers described here, a draconian solution like what the right wing desires to “combat vote fraud” would disenfranchise far more perfectly legitimate voters than the totality of this problem. That’s a great approach if your goal is to reduce the number of people who vote, but not so much for ensuring fair and accessible elections.

The moral of the story? Don’t believe the hype. Or the hyping of the hype.