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November 10, 2011 06:54 PM UTC

What The Hell Is Wrong With The Pueblo Chieftain?

  • by: Colorado Pols

Last Friday, we noted a story from the Pueblo Chieftain’s Peter Roper that struck us with its misdirections and questionable conclusions–as you know, the rate of ballots returned by “inactive-failed to vote” voters this year was substantially higher statewide than in prior years, and in Pueblo County, the percentage of these ballots returned by “inactive” voters exceeded 10%–over three times the prior estimate of Secretary of State Scott Gessler. Apparently the Pueblo clerk’s office had made a mistake in their unofficial pre-election counts and thought the percentage was even higher. Roper’s story on Friday was silly, focusing all of its attention on that error in unofficial numbers while burying the real story of the high “inactive” return rate.

Now on Wednesday, Roper wrote another story that was much fairer to Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert Ortiz, acknowledging that Pueblo County’s “inactive” mail ballot returns were in fact very high, and that the statewide return rate for “inactives” was higher. After reading this story, we were prepared to let it go, with our criticism Friday feeling satisfied.

Then we were forwarded the absolutely ridiculous editorial the Chieftain put out Sunday.

PUEBLO COUNTY Clerk Gilbert Ortiz this past week grossly overstated the response by inactive voters in this year’s election…

The office of Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler quickly challenged Mr. Ortiz’s claim. The state voter election database showed only 1,791 inactive voters in Pueblo County returned their ballots, a return rate of 10 percent.

So while the return rate from inactive voters this year was higher than normal, it was not excessively so… [Pols emphasis]

We suspect that Mr. Ortiz’s hype was an attempt to persuade the public that mail ballots are superior to precinct voting. We strongly disagree.

Mail ballots are an open invitation to fraud…

…[W]e are glad that the secretary of state’s office called Mr. Ortiz’s hand on his claim of how many ballots were returned by inactive voters. He claimed that there was a mix-up in the way those votes were displayed.

If so, that is incompetence.

Folks, we hadn’t seen this, mostly because the Pueblo Chieftain has a crappy website and articles roll off of their editorial page quickly. But we’ve tried to figure out a valid interpretation of events in which this “opinion” would not be tantamount to a straight-up lie–a 180-degree reversal from the facts–and we’ve got nothing. The “inactive-failed to vote” ballot return rate in Pueblo County dramatically exceeded both the statewide rate, and the lowball expectations by which it was argued these ballots should not have been sent. The way this editorial board disingenuously attacked the Pueblo clerk over his unofficial numbers, and purposefully undervalued the very high performance the official numbers demonstrate, is just plain unacceptable. It’s not a question of conservative or liberal bias. This is about representing facts accurately.

Anyway, folks, we typically leave the media accountability lecturing stuff to the experts, but this was sufficiently egregious that we felt it was necessary. The Chieftain needs to learn a lesson from their shoddy handling of this story–it’s good the newsroom belatedly set the record straight, but the editorial board’s Sunday-edition misinformation was a disservice to their community.


16 thoughts on “What The Hell Is Wrong With The Pueblo Chieftain?

    1. Roper did a much better job on Wednesday with the facts of the story. We’re satisfied with his coverage at this point, but the Sunday editorial is even harder to justify in light of Roper’s story yesterday.

  1. These people never should have voted in the first place.  

    They were inactive, too lazy, stupid, apathetic, or drunk to vote last time or request a ballot or memorize the the shifting voter laws and policies of Colorado and their voting residence. What part of inactive do you not understand?  

    If they wanted to vote this time, they should have voted last time.  Get it now?

    1. This is not about denying any registered voter the opportunity to vote. No legal registered voter was ever denied their opportunity to vote. A very small percentage of voters who failed to vote in the prior election, and also failed to respond to at least two reminders sent by U.S. Mail to their address, needed to contact their county clerk to have a ballot mailed to them. Failing that, any registered voter was able to contact their clerk before election day and either obtain a ballot to drop off or vote at a vote center.

      My point, of course, is not that marginal voters who haven’t taken responsibility for their status should not be allowed to vote if they want to. Of course they should. As a matter of civic duty, I take it upon myself to be educated both on the issues and candidates I’m voting on, and the elections themselves. The laws are not “shifting,” Democrats did not include an extension of the temporary policy sending ballots to inactives in their legislation. The process remains otherwise unchanged.

      I simply believe that informed, participating citizens are the ones who should be casting ballots. As John F. Kennedy said, “the ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.” Don’t you agree? Haven’t you said that about Republicans sometime?

      Part of being responsible means when your clerk sends you MULTIPLE postcards clearly indicating a simple action on your part is necessary to have a ballot automatically mailed to you, you follow the provided instructions to take said simple action. It’s not a problem for me, because I vote in every municipal, primary, and general election. If someone can’t do these simple things, I feel I can rightly question their responsibility as voters.

      Does this help? Do you have anything to say besides the usual ad hominem deflections? I hope you do!

      1. (unlike you, Eg: When i it appropriate to ever raise taxes?)

        But there’s a difference between “responsibility”  and  the right to vote. Citizens get to vote, responsible or not.  

        The law doesn’t say ballots cannot or shall not be mailed to defined inactive voters.

        The elections guy in Pueblo thought there would be a higher than predicted response from the inactive voters, and he was right.  Problem solved.

  2. that the return rate for inactive voters was actually comparable to some precincts from the old days of precinct polling places in off year elections. I kinda miss those days, since you could get a few bucks and have time to catch up on your reading as a poll worker.

  3. It was a dying, irrelevant, amateurish piece of garbage hardly worthy to wrap fish with before. And it still is.

    It is what it is. Who gives a crap about the Pueblo Chieftain?

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