Reminder: Gessler-Backed Voter ID Bill, Solution Without a Problem

One of the few anti-immigrant bills to escape the narrowly GOP controlled Colorado House is the somewhat more subtle House Bill 1003, a voter photo ID proposal we’ve talked about a couple of times now (see: Stay Classy, Jim Kerr). Set for debate this afternoon in the Senate State Affairs committee, we expect this bill to meet its fate in its first post-House test.

The reason for this expected failure is best explained by its primary supporter, Secretary of State Scott Gessler himself–from his testimony in support of the bill last month:

Can’t see the audio player? Click here.

Rep. Joe Miklosi: Thank you Mr. Chair, my last question, Mr. Secretary of State, I just wanted to verify the first question, to your knowledge there’s no verified instances of fraud?

Gessler: Well, I’m not quite sure how you, ah, I’m sorry…

Chair: Representative [inaudible] Secretary Gessler…

Gessler: Thank you, thank you Mr. Chair. I’m not quite sure how you define ‘verified’ instances of fraud, if you mean there’s been an investigation and an official report on that, no. [Pols emphasis] If I do believe that there have been instances of fraud that photo identification would prevent, I do believe that, in Colorado.

Nicely put, right? Gessler “believes” that illegal immigrants are voting. Well, we “believe” that unicorns are voting in vast numbers–who knows where those mail ballots are going, right? Behind closed doors, there could be hundreds of horned horses participating in our democracy!

When Secretary of State Gessler says there’s never been an “investigation,” what he’s saying is there has not been an incident that rose to the level of investigating. It is already against the law to vote when ineligible, and when there is probable cause to believe that laws have been broken, a criminal investigation would be the logical result. Presumably a “report” would be a police report, right? Do you see how he’s downplaying the central element to his whole case? That is, evidence to support the idea that forcing citizens to produce a photo ID in order to exercise their constitutional right to vote is justifiable? Evidence of a problem?

Look, maybe Gessler’s hunch is correct. It’s entirely possible that at some point in Colorado history, somebody legally ineligible to vote has voted. You have to allow for that. But there has never been a documented case of an illegal immigrant casting a ballot in Colorado. Responsible governments do not make public policy affecting the most sacred institution in their trust, democratic elections, on the basis of “hunches.” Either what Gessler really wants is a study of a problem he suspects but can’t prove, or this isn’t about any “problem” he is willing to talk about.

It’s just about fewer people voting.

38 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. davebarnes says:

    from the local precinct captain after I vote.

    • ArapaGOP says:

      Much like the hundreds/thousands of illegal aliens who most certainly do vote every election, you’re not supposed to talk about it.

      A good Democrat entrepreneur would be thinking about the new market for fake IDs, but nooo.

      • Colorado Pols says:

        There has never been a single reported instance of an illegal immigrant voting in Colorado. If there are thousands of them voting every election, wouldn’t at least one get caught?

        We’ve also never understood this for another reason: WHY would an illegal immigrant vote? WHY would they risk being discovered/deported just to cast a ballot?  

        • droll says:

          The numbers are the same, which I find to be suspicious.

          But hey, wait! Many can play at this game. They vote to earn their ten bucks the GOP (pick your county) promises them. How else would Gessler know it’s happening?

          • ArapaGOP says:

            Photo IDs provide the best proof that the person standing in front of an election judge really is who he or she says.

            I think the question is not why an immigrant would try to do it, the question is why Democrats oppose a sensible protection against election fraud.

            • Republican 36 says:

              Please cite any information you have that proves illegal aliens have voted in elections in Colorado. Let’s see the evidence.  

            • Middle of the Road says:

              are a bad idea. I can think of two groups of people that this openly places undue hardship on: disabled folks and elderly folks.

              I live in a small town that has a sizable population of senior citizens. They often do not have photo IDs’ because they no longer have driver’s licenses. Taking someone to stand in line for hours in order to obtain a photo ID seems an undue burden, when every single voter in this state already receives a voter ID card, with their precinct listed.

              Why isn’t the current voter card sufficient enough for you?

              • droll says:

                Back to the 2006 Special Session. Fraud uncovered; 0. People inconvenienced or screwed; countless. Evidence that there was ever really a problem; anecdotal.

                What’s tough here?

                • Middle of the Road says:

                  I was trying to provide a concrete answer to a question where the answer already seems kind of obvious to me. I replied in good faith. What can I say? 🙂

              • ArapaGOP says:

                Does not prove identity.

                Isn’t there a photo ID available to those who do not have driver licenses? And if I’m not mistaken, does this legislation not have a hardship procedure for those who cannot afford it?

                And again, if a photo ID is not considered a barrier to open a bank account, or buying alcohol, or any of the other things for which it is a standard procedure, why NOT for voting too? Especially if financial barriers are dealt with in the legislation?

                The question is, why is this considered such a “hardship?” I don’t buy it and I think it’s a smokescreen for something else.

                • droll says:

                  Do you have any idea how long it takes to get to places when you can’t just go? I’m fortunate to have people who can take me. Not all do. I’m fortunate enough to be able to keep a job that allows me to pay for the non-driver ID. Not all do. Hardship has to be proven.

                  So, again, what you’re saying is that people need to lose a day of pay (some people could easily be short rent or go hungry for the missing) to shell out cash, or beg, to vote.

                  Not to take advantage of a PRIVATE service. But to vote.

                  Why? Because you THINK there’s a problem. Maybe “think” is strong.

                  So again, do you have anything other than your random thought that fraud is actually occurring?

                  If not, I have to ask: Why do you hate America?

                • Middle of the Road says:

                  Maybe I should go with all caps….hmmm, no I’ll assume you can read.

                  Please show me examples of the rampant fraud being perpetuated on the voting public by the roving gangs of voter ID thieves and I’ll start to get worked up over the current non-existent problem you allege.

                  When you open a bank account, you do not have to continue to show your photo ID each and every time you return. Once your information is in the system and verified, all you have to do is show your checking account number. So, if you feel so strongly about a photo ID, I’m guessing you feel downright vehement about banks now requiring a photo ID each and every time you make a withdrawal or deposit for the rest of your life.

                  And because you threw this dumbass canard out, I’ll bother to waste another 60 seconds of my life and reply–you show a photo ID when you buy alcohol to prove that you are legally of age to purchase what amounts to a controlled substance. And again, at some point, when you look mature enough, they don’t require a photo ID for that, either.

                  Something for you to look forward to when you’re all grown up.  

            • WitnessProtectionForGeeks says:

              is not electing officials who engage in it.

              I am not saying that Scott Gessler or Gigi Dennis’s ethical blind spots rise to the level of fraud–I’m just saying.

              The questions Gessler should have been asked.

              Representative: to your knowledge are there any verified instances of undocumented workers fraudulently voting?

              Gessler: Well, I’m not quite sure how you, ah, I’m sorry…I’m not quite sure how you define ‘verified’ instances of fraud, if you mean there’s been an investigation and an official report on that, no.

              Representative: to your knowledge are there any verified instances of leprechauns fraudulently voting?

              Gessler: Excuse me? What?

              Representative: to your knowledge are there any verified instances of Leperchauns, who are not US citizens, fraudulently voting?

              Gessler: No Representative.

              Representative: How about real Aliens, space aliens like the ones from xenu or wookies. Any evidence they are fraudulently voting?

              Gessler: No Representative.

              Representatives: How about Santa Claus?

              Gessler: Actually someone has tried to vote under the name Santa Claus.

              Representative: So what you are saying is that we have the same amount of evidence that undocumented workers are voting as we have that space aliens or leprechauns are voting and less evidence than Santa Claus is engaged in voter fraud?

              Gessler:  Well ahh….

            • Ralphie says:

              Neither would many other people’s grandmothers.

              It’s not really sensible if it excludes people.

              • Middle of the Road says:

                Once it excludes people, it becomes a matter of disenfranchisement and if Republicans truly believe what they espouse about democracy and voting, then advocating against a photo ID is a no brainer for their party.

                And yet, they always seem to be the party looking to disenfranchise some portion of the population. Go figure.  

            • A voter’s identity is verified when they register to vote.  No-one (in theory) can register to vote unless and until they are verified to be citizens of the district in which they are registering.

              Once registered, a voter still has to provide some kind of ID each time they vote – two bills, photo ID, or something…  They can’t just walk up to the voting booth, say “I’m a registered voter” and get a ballot.  

              Nor can they simply walk up to the booth and present themselves as someone else – such fraud would be caught either because the real voter had already shown up, or showed up later and couldn’t vote because of the fraudster.

              So if you have to prove your eligibility when you register, and you have to prove your identity when you vote, and anyone committing fraud would have to get around getting caught under those circumstances, how do you figure hundreds of thousands of (undoubtedly, in your mind, dependent on the public coffers) illegal immigrants have managed to evade those issues?

              And given that they’re resourceful enough to come up with matching signatures and some kind of proof of who they “are” already, how is a photo ID going to stop them?

  2. BlueCat says:

    Find a goal you want to reach; suppressing voter turnout, busting unions, saving heterosexual marriage from the gays, what have you, then create a problem for which an action that will lead to your desired goal can be sold as the solution.

    Take illegal immigration, for instance.  According to an item in one of our local papers recently, Mexico’s newest census shows the number of migrants leaving the country dropped by more than two-thirds since its peak in the last decade, and more migrants are coming back than before.

    Seems like the lousy economy and stricter enforcement are doing a bang up job of solving the illegal immigrant problem and how much more than 2 thirds improvement could we expect from the zillion dollar fence or any other zillion dollar idea? The real problem now seems to be spill over drug violence at the border and bloody, violent chaos in our near neighbor with the drug cartels armed pretty much exclusively by American-side border gun merchants.  But stricter control of gun sales isn’t a desired GOP goal. Encouraging xenophobia and bigotry is. Ergo draconian legislation to solve the near non-problem and nothing to mitigate a really serious problem.

    This method works for any desired goal and the media rarely calls them on the fabricated nature of the problem. Gessler is simply following the tried and true GOP road map.

    • ArapaGOP says:

      Can you explain to me what the problem is with requiring a photo ID to vote, just like you’re required to show one to open a bank account, buy a beer, or rent a movie from Blockbuster?

      Why is this a problem? an intelligent explanation would do better than “Republicans are teh EVIL!1!”

      • Dan Willis says:

        is that you have to spend money to get a photo ID and if the only reason you are getting one is to vote, then it becomes similar to a Poll Tax.

        In reality, the people affected the most are the elderly who have long since surrendered their driver’s license and have no other photo ID. Ther is also an argument for the very poor and homeless who may nto have a photo ID, but can come up with one of the other acceptable ID’s.

        Personally I am torn on this issue. I think the current rules in Colorado are a little too lax, but I also understand the needs of those who legitimately don’t have a need for a photo ID and it should be not required of them SOLELY for the purpose of voting.

        • Ralphie says:

          Many birth records, particularly older ones before computers, have been destroyed by fire or other accidents over the years.

          In rural America, many people were born at home.  Older rural Americans, particularly older black Americans, have no easy way to lay their hands on birth certificates.

          • Dan Willis says:

            Several years ago when I was getting my passport fopr the first time, I had a devil of a time because Ohio lost my birth certificate and my driver’s licesnse was not good enough.

            I managed to get my christening record from the church but I needed a notarized statement to go with it from a relative who was there when I was born. My mother died when I was a baby, Dad was in Vietnam at the time of my birth, my grandparents were dead by this time, and my mom’s only sister was living in another state at the time of my birth. The county I was born in didn’t keep copies of birth records, they forwarded them all on to Columbus.

            I finally went to Columbus and made a bit of an ass of myself forcing the Vital Records office to keep searching for my birth certificate that they lost. Ultimately it turned up because they file their birth records by date of birth and not be name, it was misfiled under the date I was adopted by grandparents after my mother died.

            So even those of us who have birth certificates are at the mercy of gov’t officials!

            • ArapaGOP says:

              These are red herrings I do believe, there is a procedure, and alternate documentation, for any one of those circumstances to obtain an ID.

              • Ralphie says:


                Those are real stories about real people who wouldn’t be allowed to vote under this scenario.

                Let me suggest that you dig up some facts so that people won’t think you’re an idiot.

                Once you do, please get back to us.

              • BlueCat says:

                this is a non-problem as Gessler himself inadvertantly admits, not really being able to cite a case. In fact, motivating everyone who qualifies to vote, especially minorities and young voters, is the far greater challenge. Just not for Rs who always benfit from and strive for voter suppression.  This is a problem invented only as an excuse to take action to help lower voter participation. Rs just hate it when too many little people vote.

                And funny Ralphie and Dan should mention the difficulty of getting old birth certificates. My immigrant grandparents never had theirs. Between WWI and the Communist Revolution, things were a little chaotic back in the old country by the time they all left. The whole issue is a red herring, ArapG.  

        • ArapaGOP says:

          Lack of positive ID of a person’s identity makes fraud possible. There’s no logical way to deny this.

          • ajb says:

            Republicans keep arguing that we have a nanny state – that government passes legislation for problems that don’t exist.

            As has been pointed out many times in this thread, there are no documented cases of voter fraud in Colorado that would have been prevented by having a picture ID.

            For example, a statewide survey of county election officials in Ohio found only four instances of ineligible persons voting or attempting to vote in 2002 and 2004 out of 9,078,728 votes cast – a rate of 0.00004%.


            Furthermore, possession of positive ID of a person’s identity does not prevent fraud.

            For example, voter fraud appears to be much more of an issue with absentee ballots than with in-person voting, yet recent photo identification laws purportedly aimed at stopping fraud have stringent requirements for in-person voting but leave untouched or even loosen the requirements for absentee voting.


            So this isn’t about preventing fraud, it’s about preventing voting by non-whites that tend to vote for Democrats:

            A June 2005 study in Wisconsin found that among Wisconsin men ages eighteen to twenty-four, 36% of whites, 57% of Latinos, and 78% of African Americans lacked a valid driver’s license.


          • Republican 36 says:

            so what’s the real reason you support this legislation?

            • droll says:

              We don’t need a bunch of whippersnappers influencing the senior vote. Get those ballots off the kitchen table and we’ll see Obama go down in flames. Bwahahahahaha.


              et cetera

      • droll says:

        Really? Seriously? For true?!?

        A simple question has been asked. You haven’t answered it. Try again?

      • Cordelia Chase says:

        About 10% of the population does not have a photo ID.  Someone from the El Paso Clerk and Recorders office testified to this point at the committee hearing (although, ironically, to make the point that requiring a photo id was not a big deal – apparently disenfranchising 10% of the voting population is no big deal for them).

        I would have no problem requiring a photo id to vote if 1) the government provided a free id to everyone and 2) the government paid to help individuals who could not obtain the necessary documents to get an id.

        Right now, neither of these things happen and that would make the requirement like a poll tax.  

  3. dwyer says:

    It is a multi-state strategy.  The birthers’ argue that only “they” can authenticate a birth certificate, not necessarily the states.  This  can supress the Hispanic vote, if the eligibity of Hispanic voters is going to be questioned or if Hispanics are asked to provide proof of citizenship.  Boyles has said that the copy of a birth certificate certified by the state is not valid.  

    There are two issues:  One is proving  that you are a resident and a citizen and thus eligible to register to vote.  Two is proving that you are who you say you are when you appear to vote.  I think that there may be legitimate questions about current methods.  However, repubs are real smart and they are grabbing power and targeting the democratic power base, quite successfully, I fear.


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