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October 04, 2011 06:30 PM UTC

Does Gessler believe inactive voter lists have been deliberately mismanaged to favor Democrats?

  • 29 Comments
  • by: Jason Salzman

(Down the rabbit hole goes Gessler – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has been denying that partisanship played any role in his decision to file a lawsuit to stop Denver from mailing election ballots to inactive voters, who last voted in the 2008 general election.

Gessler’s latest public denial of partisan-taint came on KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman Show last week, in response to a direct question from Silverman at 33 minutes in the podcast Sept. 28 show, 5 p.m. hour:

Silverman: Isn’t this just partisan on your part? Isn’t it because you’re thinking this will favor the Democrats?

Gessler: Absolutely not. Denver can’t do what it wants to do. It can do what it wants to do in a municipal election.

But in October, as he was running for office, Gessler said on a radio show that the large number of Democratic voters on the inactive voter lists concerned him, specifically because more Democrats than Republicans were on the inactive voter lists.

In fact, it concerned him so much that he implied that election officials in Democratic counties, which would include Denver, were managing their inactive voter lists in such a way as to favor the Democratic Party.

Gessler framed the issue in partisan terms, saying at the time that in counties with large numbers of Democrats, election officials are slow to clean up their lists of inactive voters.

“You have some heavily democratic counties that are less focused on cleaning up their databases than other counties,” Gessler told KOA’s Mike Rosen, Oct. 6, 2010, at 10:15 seconds in the podcast:

Rosen: I’ve got a report in front of me from the Secretary of State’s office, and it’s an official report. You can see  it online. And it has total registered voters by party affiliation and status. Among Republicans, we have 869,000 active voters and 199,000 inactive voters. Among Democrats, 825,000 active voters and 242,000 inactive voters….

Gessler: If they have not voted in the last general election they become inactive. And I think what you are seeing there, especially because of the heavy skew towards the large number Democrat inactive voters. I think that indicates variances in the counties and how focused they are. You have some heavily democratic counties that are less focused on cleaning up their databases than other counties. What you always look for to find out if there is a problem with the database is statistical anomalies. When there is something that pops out that seems a little unusual. Here there is something unusual there. You have two times, twice as many inactive Democrat voters as you do Republican voters. That is something that needs investigation. I am not saying there is massive fraud or anything there but that is very unusual to have those statistical anomalies.

I contacted Gessler’s office yesterday for a clarification. When he said, “less focused,” did he mean that clerks were deliberately putting less of a priority on cleaning up the inactive voter lists in order to promote Democrats?

Does he believe there’s a little bit of fraud going on here, even if there’s not the “massive” variety? Did his concern about the inactive voter lists play a role in his decision to file the lawsuit against Denver?

I’ll update this post when I get an answer.

Comments

29 thoughts on “Does Gessler believe inactive voter lists have been deliberately mismanaged to favor Democrats?

    1. ArapG’s take is in error and that SOS is supposed to be perceived as even handed where his election duties are concerned.  Even he realizes that, no, an SOS isn’t elected for the purpose of  handing elections to his own party via a blatant partisan thumb on the scale. He may not  have taken it to the next step of making much effort to portray any serious degree of fairness but he does seem to know he’s supposed to give it lip service.

  1. The reason the number of Dem. “inactive-failed to vote” is higher than GOP is because there was large GOP turnout in 2010, as evidenced by the GOP winning the state house, treasurer, and SoS. Duh!

    Had there not been the “Republican Wave of 2010” we would see the inactive-failed to vote numbers be reasonably close to the average voter registration.

      1. In any election year we see this activity, but it was not very extensive in 2010. 2008 was the year we saw LOTS of that.

        Of course, most college kids have proably moved since 2008 so they will be in the “inactive-returned mail” category and not part of the issue at hand.

  2. If any voter in Colorado is considered an inactive voter based on Colorado law, and did not register (or re-register) during the window of opportunity should they then still be eligible to vote in the upcoming election cycle?

    I’m pretty sure that answer is going to be no based on Colorado law. So how is this any different for any out of state voter. Military or otherwise?

    Not looking for a flame war here. Just an answer.  

      1. Sorry about the double post here. I believed I was replying to Aristotle but replied to my own reply.

        Based on what I have learned by the below replies. The voter is not ineligible, just inactive.

        Seems as though all they would have to do is vote or request a ballot if they chose to vote by mail.

        I do not agree of having a cold ballot sent out to a person if they have not requested one.

        I believe if someone intends on voting then they will indicate that intent by voting in person or requesting that a ballot be sent to them via the mail.  

    1. You don’t need to vote in every election to be eligible to vote in the next one. Once you’re registered, you’re registered until you move or die, and can vote when you want to. You don’t need to notify anyone you still want to vote. As Gessler says, any of these people can walk into a vote center and cast a ballot, but what the Denver and Pueblo clerks want to do is make it as easy for them to vote as it is for the people who cast ballots last fall. That’s what this is about, not whether they’re “eligible to vote in the upcoming election cycle,” that’s not in question.

        1. Based on what I have learned by the below replies. The voter is not ineligible, just inactive.

          Seems as though all they would have to do is vote or request a ballot if they chose to vote by mail.

          I do not agree of having a cold ballot sent out to a person if they have not requested one.

          I believe if someone intends on voting then they will indicate that intent by voting in person or requesting that a ballot be sent to them via the mail.  

          1. Everyone gets a “cold ballot” sent out and no one has to request one. The question is whether voting in 2010 is enough to trigger this “cold ballot,” or whether being a registered voter is enough.

            I believe if someone intends on voting then they will indicate that intent by voting in person or requesting that a ballot be sent to them via the mail.  

            What you’re saying would apply to active and inactive voters alike, except that this is an all-mail election in most of the state (all but a few smaller counties).

            If you’ve got a problem with all-mail elections, that’s a different question entirely.  

    2. Inactive voters CAN still vote in this  election. They are registered voters.

      The issue is whether they should be automatically mailed a ballot like active voters are.

      Inactive voters can request a ballot be mailed and by doing so become an active voter again. They can also go to any vote center to vote. The vote centers are designed to help any registered voter who did not receive their ballot in the mail. The inactive voters fall into this category.

      1. Then because of, say, my inactivity, it should probably then be incumbent of me to request that ballot instead of having that ballot mailed to me without my asking.

        I believe that would be a fair assumption  on my part as a voter.  

        1. that everyone who is registered gets a mail ballot when it’s an all-mail election, in particular because that’s what the state legislature mandated several years ago and has been true for the previous three elections.

          Or for voters who moved to Colorado a few years ago from another state that doesn’t even have the “inactive voter” category (that would be the vast majority of states), it would be a fair assumption that skipping the 2010 election because it was utterly uninspiring shouldn’t have to mean you have to take all sort of steps to vote in the next one.

          None of these rules were handed down from on high, and different variations of them have been supported by both Democrats and Republicans over the years. There’s nothing “natural” about what a voter should assume, but there is the question of whether the state can make it easier or make it harder for registered voters to cast ballots.  

          1. Assuming an all mail ballot, then I would not have to assume to ask for a ballot. And, in that light, all ‘inactive’ voters should receive a ballot as well.

            I’m good with that.

            Thanks.  

    3. The issue is not whether you can vote.  The issue is whether you will receive a mail ballot automatically.

      An inactive voter can activate at any time by going to the Clerk’s office or a service center and requesting a ballot.  You have to do it in writing.  There’s a form you fill out.

      1. Based on the answers I have seen here, all I would have to do is vote. And that act of voting would activate me as a voter. So If I am registered but did not vote in the last election, I’m still “on the books” and I should automatically receive a ballot in thie upcoming election. All I have to do is fill it out.

        Someone can correct me if I am wrong. But that is the jist of what I have read here.  

        1. That’s what’s happened in the last three all-mail elections, plus in some municipal elections. But that’s also what Gessler is taking Denver to court to prevent, and Pueblo will abide by what the judge decides. Inactive voters in other counties will have to take extra steps to vote this year, unlike what they have had to do in previous years. They won’t automatically receive ballots.

        2. If you did not vote in the last election, Gessler is saying you should not receive a ballot. However, Denver has traditionally sent ballot to these folks. This is the whole point of conflict being discussed.

          The law says that in the case of an all-mail election, ballots must be sent to all ACTIVE registered voters. If you missed the 2010 election and have not had contact with the county clerk’s office since, you are listed as INACTIVE. you are registered but inactive.

          Denver’s position is that sending ballots to the active voters is the minimal requirement of the law as written. They say it is their right to send ballots to the inactive people who are inactive ONLY because they missed the 2010 election. There are other reasons for a person to be inactive, and these reasons indicate a problem that needs to be resolved by the voter: they have moved, etc. But these other reason inactive voters are not the ones being discussed in this conflict.

          Gessler’s point of view is that Denver, nor any other county, are forbidden from automatically sending ballots to the people who missed the 2010 election, unless they have taken such action to make them active again.

          All of the terminology gets a little confusing. Here is a quick run-down:

          Registered – Active Will get a ballot automatically in an all-mail election.

          Registered – Inactive:Failed to Vote The point of the current tension. see above

          Registered – Inactive: returned mail Will not get a ballot automatically in mail-ballot election, but can still vote by requesting a ballot or going to a vote center.

          Cancelled These people are considered not registered. They have moved out of state, are serving time as a felon, or have died. They are still in the computer but must re-register in order to vote. They will not appear in a poll book at a polling place and will not be sent a ballot, unless they re-register and are determined qualified to vote (ie-moved back to Colorado, or are no longer under sentence for the felons). Even the dead are kept in the computer for a while just in case they were marked dead incorrectly.

          Not Registered Simply have never registered to vote. Cannot vote if they did not register by the deadline. There are exceptions for new citizens, people who just turned 18 and new residents of the state,

        3. So If I am registered but did not vote in the last election, I’m still “on the books” and I should automatically receive a ballot in thie upcoming election. All I have to do is fill it out.

          Yes, you are still on the books.  As “Inactive-Failed to Vote.”  No, you will not automatically receive a ballot in the upcoming election.  That’s what this whole discussion is about.

          I’m correcting you because you appear to be wrong.

  3. Why are Democrats in marginal situations the majority of the time? Why are they always demanding the right to be tardy and not have their homework completed? What if everybody was this lazy and irresponsible? I think it may go back to childhood.

    1. If you meet your deadline, how you did so is beside the point.

      Why are Republicans disrespectful of the letter of the law? Why do they feel the right to judge others who haven’t failed, but rather did things some way they personally don’t like? Is it because they’re really control freaks, and want the law to be as harsh as possible?

    2. Why are Republicans always relying on their servants and butlers to do things for them and looking down at people who do things for themselves? Why are they always saying that completing something by a deadline really means you’ve fallen outside a deadline — when good, responsible people have manservants to do things ahead of time? What if everyone had this priggish sense of self-entitlement? It definitely goes back to childhood, when mommy did everything for the poor young Republican. Scott Gessler is just taking over her role.

    3. Why Republicans think that they always, always, always have to cheat, lie or steal  to win.  They can’t win on their own merits?  Why do they have to disenfranchise folks to get their guys elected?  Don’t bother to answer Arap, I know (without wanting in any way shape or form to out you) that you live in my neighborhood with the rest of the Neanderthals.

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