UPDATE: It was just brought to our attention that reporter Allison Sherry of the Denver paper wrote a good “Beltway Blog” post on Scott Gessler’s testimony late last week, including a reference to the 32,000 people who became United States citizens in Colorado during the period Gessler cites (see our spreadsheet). Kudos to her, we hope this critical point doesn’t get lost.
Because Gessler, and others now capitalizing on his dishonesty, would obviously prefer it did.
Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler was in Washington, DC at the end of last week, testifying before the Republican-controlled House Administration Committee about his recent “study” of Colorado voter rolls–as discussed re: Colorado House Bill 1252, a bill Gessler is pushing in the state legislature to give him wide authority to audit (this is a nice word for “purge”) the voter rolls for anyone he “believes is not a citizen of the United States.”
In the wake of Gessler’s testimony, The Hill reported from the hip–scandal!
Republicans on the House Administration Committee want to shore up voter registration rules in the wake of a Colorado study that found as many as 5,000 non-citizens in the state took part in last year’s election.
Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), the panel’s chairman, called the study “a disturbing wake-up call” that should cause every state to review its safeguards to prevent illegal voting…
Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican, told the panel that his department’s study identified nearly 12,000 people who were not citizens but were still registered to vote in Colorado.
Of those non-citizen registered voters, nearly 5,000 took part in the 2010 general election in which Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet narrowly defeated Republican Ken Buck.
It gets even more breathless at NewsMax.com. Gessler’s testimony before this House committee last week is quickly making its way through the right-wing telephone game. Before it’s done, there will probably be Mexican street gangs patrolling west Denver polling places, and of course these illegal noncitizen voters must be the reason Ken Buck lost the Senate race–right?
Of course, if you’ve been following this story, or paid the slightest attention to the 2010 Senate race, you already know this is a load of hooey–not to mention there are huge problems with Gessler’s “study” of Colorado voter rolls. Perhaps the biggest? According to federal government records on naturalization we were pointed to, over 32,000 people became United States citizens in Colorado between 2006 and 2009. That’s over 3 times Gessler’s highest estimate of any problem, and certainly enough to account for 5,000 people who may have voted in 2010.
Speaking of which, how is it that we’re talking about so many different numbers? Is it the 11,000 you should be afraid of, or 5,000? Or is it the 106 Gessler says he’s “sure about?” The correct figure, if any, determines the extent of the problem, degree of appropriate paranoia, etc. Reporter Kurtis Lee of the Denver paper did a better job earlier of explaining that the 11,000 in question are based on records dating back to 2006, and that they “could possibly have become citizens later”–as (though Lee didn’t report this part) some 32,000 did between 2006 and 2009.
For a side of this hearing that hasn’t been reported adequately, check out the video above of questioning by Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-TX)–very effectively tearing into Gessler’s methods, lack of cooperation with county clerks, and above all the vague, unsupported claims. A cutting statement from Gonzales, including GOP Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner’s skeptical response to Gessler’s surprise disclosure of this “study” follows–though we’re sorry to say the Newsmax.com version of the story seems to be getting more play as of this writing.
Colorado Voter Registration Study Questioned during House Administration Committee Hearing on a look back at what went right and wrong with the 2010 Election
Washington, DC (April 1, 2011): During a hearing convened by the Committee on House Administration yesterday, a report issued by the Office of Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler was the subject of tremendous scrutiny. The report, prepared with official state resources, makes unfounded allegations of non-citizens registering to vote and participating in the 2010 Election in Colorado. In a statement issued today, Rep. Charles Gonzalez, D-TX, questioned Mr. Gessler’s judgment in preparing and releasing such a flawed report:
“No attorney would go before a judge with a report in which the main claims are preceded by such terms as ‘inconclusive’, ‘incomplete’, and ‘impossible to provide a precise number’. I was surprised to see Sec. Gessler base claims about who may have voted in November 2010 on immigration status reports from five years ago,” said Rep. Gonzalez. “Ensuring the integrity of our elections is far too important a matter to base decisions on a study that mischaracterizes empirical data, neglects even the most obvious analysis of that data, and hides these failings behind terms like ‘tentative’ and ‘preliminary.’ The people of Colorado and the United States House of Representatives deserve better.”
Rep. Gonzalez also questioned the lack of cooperation and information sharing between Secretary Gessler’s office and local election officials in Colorado. He pointed to a press release issued by Mesa County Colorado Clerk and Recorder Sheila Reiner outlining her unsuccessful attempts to secure cooperation from Secretary Gessler’s office in vitiating his claims.
“It seems premature to make this kind of statement without having fully investigated the issue. It would take the involvement of County Clerks to review voter records and contact our voters to determine whether or not they have become citizens and are or are not properly registered,” said Reiner. County Clerks are statutorily required to facilitate the voter registration and election process. I take pride in my office and our work. It troubles me that the Clerks were not consulted in this data comparison.”
Despite his claims of wide-spread voter fraud, Secretary Gessler’s report acknowledges that his “data are incomplete and this number does not prove” that non-citizens registered improperly, let alone that they voted before becoming citizens. The Gessler report, instead, merely compares the number of people who were non-citizens when they, legally, acquired drivers licenses, to the list of people who voted in 2010.
“At today’s hearing, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and Citrus County (FL) Supervisor of Elections Susan Gill both laid out legitimate problems in our voter registration processes and ways to ensure that only those eligible to vote are registered,” said Gonzalez. “It is counterproductive to expend our limited resources on an incomplete, misleading collation of data when we could be analyzing the real problems we’re facing.”
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