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April 05, 2011 12:32 AM UTC

Gessler Goes To DC For Hype, Underreported Pummeling

  • by: Colorado Pols

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 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 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.

(Excerpted from Reiner Release – full version).

“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.”

# # #


33 thoughts on “Gessler Goes To DC For Hype, Underreported Pummeling

  1. 106 illegal votes out of 1.6M in the Senate race.

    That is huge.

    Almost 0.007%.

    We can’t have this flagrant disregard for the rules.

    Next, you know that we will be electing Democrats to other offices because I am pretty sure that illegal voters only vote for Dems.

      1. Obviously. If we start setting up patrols, or road blocks, we’ll find the sneaky bastards. Only the un-American will complain. Show your ID for freedom!

      1. Madison had studied every government in the entire history of mankind; he came to the conclusion that democracies and most monarchies always ended badly, for everyone. Hence the Republican form of government, the original USC guaranteed…

        1. doesn’t mean the same thing as Republican as in Republican party, Mark.  You’re talking apples and oranges.  

          We do have a democratic process, designed by our founding fathers and expanded over the two+ centuries of our existence to include all citizens regardless of property, gender or race via the method the creators of our Republic mandated for the amendment of our constitution, for electing those who are delegated to represent our interests as citizens of a Republic with a democratically elected representative government.  

          Democrats seek to have as many citizens participate in that democratic process as possible. Republicans, on the other hand, seek to limit the numbers participating as much as possible because the fact is, their policies are harmful to the majority of working middle and lower income Americans who are much more likely to keep them out of power if they exercise their voting rights in higher numbers. Period.  

      2. No, not zero or one vote or 100 voters.

        However some voting standards are required.

        The masses will always vote themselves gifts from the treasury until it is dry. The elitist will do the same, however they are smart enough to throw you some carrots as to not completely drain the treasury.

        Somehow this must be a government of the people, for the people and by the people, not government of the takers, for the takers, by the takers.

        1. When mega-corporations like GE can make record profits, pay NO taxes, and get $3+ billion back in tax credits, it’s pretty obvious that GE is a “taker.”  Too bad the Republican-dominated Supreme Court thinks GE is people….

        2. you are so wary of that comprise “the people”.  And since the 70s they have had so little luck in voting themselves all those goodies you imagine them to be lazily enjoying they’re stuck right where they were or slipping while the tiny elite has had all the success enlarging their piece of the pie.

          I don’t know who you think comprises “the people” because the middle class is no better off than they were 40 years ago.  I’m thinking you have in mind the petty upper middle class, those affluent but only in a modest way compared to the players.  I’m also guessing that’s your class.  

          Don’t worry. Those who don’t manage to claw their way into the serious elite will soon be falling back with the rest of us if the GOP has its way. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s not the government they want to shrink to nothing.  It’s the middle class.

          You sound like you might want to go all the way back to a property requirement which would put most of the petty upper middle one divorce or lay off from a barely 6 figure job or serious illness away from losing their property and right to vote. You sound like you should be running around in a powdered wig complaining about the price of slaves.

    1. the GOP hates it when the little people mess things up by exercising their right to vote and consider commie wording like “of the people, by the people, for the people”  and the “common good” or  “welfare” to be most unfortunate.  Country clubs should never have been opened up to Jews, much less Blacks, and if only those pre-civil rights era country club types, and their employees at their direction, were the only ones with the right to vote, everything would be peachy, eh, Mark?   Universal suffrage is so shockingly socialist, especially when just any shabby unwashed citizen can vote.

      1. I think “Mark G.” has had a little too much sauce. This is not about the right to vote, it’s just about verification of legality.

        Democrats do love to protest their own guilt. But you still have the right to vote.

        1. Sometimes, ArapG, I just have no clue what you’re talking about.  It seems like Rs are the ones who love hidden sleazy behavior followed by a good confession. And as usual, no response to the undisputed GOP history of voter suppression/ dirty tricks.  While Rs promote ACORN hysteria the people getting tried and convicted of dirty election tricks this century are overwhelming Rs.

        2. ArapaGOOP you are correct, we should FEDEX our DEBOLDT boxes around the globe so everyone may exercise their right to vote in our elections.

  2. they are residents of the US, just not Colorado.

    Instead they are citizens of Florida, Texas or Nevada for tax purposes, and registered in Aspen Colorado just cause.

  3. Look. You may ultimately have a point about the rate of naturalization, and that may indeed cover the vast majority of people identified by the Secretary of State as potential noncitizen voters. I think that Gessler would agree that this is a potential explanation for at least some of them.

    Gessler has stated repeatedly that he is not interested in prosecution, and he concedes that he does not have complete information. That is why he supports HB-1252, which administratively resolves the problem through simple, straightforward verification. Provided these people who registered to vote had become citizens by the time they did so, their rights will not be affected.

    The alternative is doing nothing, and not knowing if these 11,000 are actually among the 32,000 who became citizens. We owe it to the integrity of the election system to allow the SoS to do due diligence.

    1. Decades worth of voter suppression efforts on the part of the GOP demonstrate an ongoing goal.  Now that white folks are headed to minority status, the GOP is more desperate than ever to stem the tide of voters they don’t imagine will lean their way for as long a they can and to accomplish as much wealth and power grabbing as possible in the meantime.

    2. Gessler is interested in headlines and future higher office.  Plain and simple.  The fact is that he is a lawyer.  He has a higher standard of truthfulness.  He knows his numbers are inaccurate.  He knows they are nothing but “supporting the conservative agenda.”  He ought to be dis-barred, for stupidity if nothing else.  

  4. Gessler canceled. But I agree with Blue Cat, that is part of an

    overall republican strategy to continue to suppress the vote.

    The purging of black voters in Florida in 2000 contributed to the Bush “victory.”  Back in the day, in the 60s, the Democratic party had lawyers all available at a moment’s notice to contest anyone who was having difficulty voting. I don’t see that kind of saturation legal help, today.

    The issue here is going to be to protect voting rights BEFORE the election.  There needs to be a Voters Rights Project NOW.

    I believe that the controversy and publicity alone will deter people from voting.  

    Thanks to CP for this comprehensive coverage.  

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