The Denver Post’s Conrad Swanson follows up on a highly misleading report that aired on CBS4 Denver late last week, which suggested Colorado’s voter rolls were somehow compromised by a post card sent to non-voters encouraging those eligible–with the eligibility requirements outlined right there on the card–to register to vote. This story from CBS4 political reporter Shaun Boyd, who has well-known Republican apologist proclivities, was eventually removed by station management–but in the two days it was up on their site it was widely shared by conservative media and talking heads up to and including Donald Trump, Jr. himself.
As Swanson reports, Rep. Ken Buck, a Coloradan and former district attorney who at least on paper should know better, picked up the misinformation and ran it in for an own goal:
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Windsor, and the Colorado secretary of state traded barbs on social media Tuesday afternoon in the latest escalation between Republicans and Democrat Jena Griswold as the fall election approaches.
The conflict began after a CBS4 Denver story over the weekend inaccurately suggested that a mailing list for mailers asking Coloradans to vote — a mailing list that included dead people — was connected to the same mailing list from which ballots are sent out. The article was amplified by conservative influencers before CBS4 News Director Tim Wieland took it off the station’s website Sunday and published a clarifying story Monday.
“Reports that the Colorado Secretary of State’s office mailed voter registration postcards to non-citizens and deceased individuals are deeply concerning,” Buck wrote on Twitter as he shared the conservative outlet Brietbart’s version of the original story. “We must get to the bottom of this.”
After having spent the weekend trying to set the record straight after CBS4’s egregious mischaracterization of these post cards to nonvoters as evidence of something amiss with the voter rolls, Secretary of State Jena Griswold was out of courtesy for Buck’s belated rehash of this already debunked news:
“Russia doesn’t have to worry about spreading election misinformation in Colorado,” Griswold wrote. Buck “is doing it for them.” [Pols emphasis]
Because the debunking of a bad story never travels as far as the original misinformation, we expect this fake news to continue to reverberate around conservative media all the way through the election. Every time it comes up, the answer is the same: a post card sent to non-voters has nothing to do with the “voter rolls.” None of the eligibility requirements to actually register to vote were misrepresented, let alone changed by this post card.
Republicans are spreading this story for one reason: it helps instill doubt in Colorado’s mail ballot election system, whose successful track record stands in stark contrast to Donald Trump’s baseless warnings that mail ballots are going to result in “fraud like you’ve never seen.” In this battle, at least until the election settles the question, it’s increasingly clear that our local Republicans will be of no help refuting Trump’s false statements even though they know better.
Given the potential consequences for American democracy if Trump refuses to acknowledge a result in November he doesn’t like, the complicity of local Republicans in maintaining Trump’s fictions about our election system could be enormously damaging to the country.
No matter how bad it gets, Ken Buck is the last one who will admit his mistake.