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August 28, 2012 07:42 PM UTC

Gessler's "Illegal Voter" Hunt Finds Highly Predictable Targets

  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE: 7NEWS, the blowback begins:

The American Civil Liberties Union says it is being contacted by U.S citizens who received letters from Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler questioning their right to vote.

The ACLU’s Colorado branch said Tuesday the voters are among the nearly 4,000 people who Gessler sent letters to earlier this month asking them to voluntarily withdraw their registration or prove their citizenship…


AP’s Ivan Moreno reports via CBS4:

Democrats and independent voters got 86 percent of the requests to withdraw from voting rolls if they’re not citizens as part of an initiative from Colorado’s Republican Secretary of State, The Associated Press learned Monday.

The breakdown renewed skepticism that Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler has a political motivation in sending the letters. His office provided the figures to the AP. Gessler has repeatedly denied claims that party registration plays a factor in his efforts to make sure ineligible voters are not on rolls.

Gessler spokesman Rich Coolidge said officials did not look at party registration when they mailed the letters, and that they only compiled the information because of a media request.

He said Gessler’s office is committed to ensure that only eligible voters cast ballots. He said about skeptics, “We’re not going to respond to the political noise around this issue.”

Democrats are angrily pointing to the fact that less than 13% of Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s nearly 4,000 “questionable” registered voters are Republicans. Gessler’s spokesman Rich Coolidge insists in response that party affiliation wasn’t factored at all when compiling this list, though–and to be honest, we see no reason to dispute that assertion.

Because it really doesn’t matter.

It was a foregone conclusion based on a wealth of empirical facts, and the ethnic breakdown of voter registrations in Colorado that the overwhelming majority of these voters with citizenship “questions” would be Democrats or unaffiliated. Remember, the rate of regular naturalization of new citizens in Colorado is more than enough to account for this “discrepancy”–as Gessler himself admits, the number of actual problem registrations is believed to be a small fraction of the 4,000 who got letters at most. But the fact is, Gessler didn’t “target” one party more than another because he didn’t have to–the partisan effects of this campaign are self-evident.

At this point, everybody has to wait for Gessler to announce the results. Democrats are right to question him, but they need to do it for the right reasons and avoid credibility pitfalls along the way. Without proper context, Gessler’s actions will be positively received by a number of voters–of all parties. The problem comes when he tries to justify such a large expenditure of time and effort to “root out” what will in all likelihood be a tiny fraction of the 4,000 voters who were sent a letter. How many ballots are chewed up in reading machines, miscounted, left behind at the polling place, otherwise lost or delayed in counting, in every election?

Until Gessler can justify his devotion to ferreting out a tiny number of “illegal voters,” while other problems in any election can produce a greater error rate, the whole effort is politically dubious.

And it opens Republicans to more criticism than these few voters are worth to either side.


19 thoughts on “Gessler’s “Illegal Voter” Hunt Finds Highly Predictable Targets

  1. Voter Fraud Virtually Non-existent

    Comprehensive Database of U.S. Voter Fraud Uncovers No Evidence That Photo ID Is Needed

       A News21 analysis of 2,068 alleged election-fraud cases since 2000 shows that while fraud has occurred, the rate is infinitesimal, and in-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which prompted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tough voter ID laws, is virtually non-existent.

       In an exhaustive public records search, News21 reporters sent thousands of requests to elections officers in all 50 states, asking for every case of fraudulent activity including registration fraud, absentee ballot fraud, vote buying, false election counts, campaign fraud, casting an ineligible vote, voting twice, voter impersonation fraud and intimidation.

       Analysis of the resulting comprehensive News21 election fraud database turned up 10 cases of voter impersonation. With 146 million registered voters in the United States during that time, those 10 cases represent one out of about every 15 million prospective voters.

       “Voter fraud at the polls is an insignificant aspect of American elections,” said elections expert David Schultz, professor of public policy at Hamline University School of Business in St. Paul, Minn.

       “There is absolutely no evidence that (voter impersonation fraud) has affected the outcome of any election in the United States, at least any recent election in the United States,” Schultz said.[Ari’s emphasis, except for the headline]

    A-BOT, I challenge you to answer this, and tell us why we should even assume even one of these 4,000 voters is “questionable” given the astronomical odds against that possibility.

  2. When the government, at any level, decides to take away someone’s property or especially a constitutional right – like voting – it is the government and not the citizen who has the burden to prove its case.

    The way this story is written, Mr. Gessler sent 4,000 registered voters a letter that basically gives each one a specified amount of time to prove they are a citizen and if they don’t respond then he will hold a hearing and summarily revoke their registration based on the fact the individual voters hasn’t proven he or she is a citizen. That kind of procedure is akin to asking someone: “When did you stop beating your spouse?”

    If Mr. Gessler doesn’t believe someone is a citizen it isn’t up to the registered voter to prove him wrong, unless the SOS first brings forth evidence to prove they are registered illegally. Mr. Gessler has access to the Department of Homeland Security database and can check the names there. If he wants to accuse someone of being illegally registered to vote he needs to make that charge based hard evidence and then allow any of these individuals to prove him wrong.

    In this country the person making a charge or claim against someone else has the burden to prove the case. Mr. Gessler is trying to stand that on its head by taking the position individual registered voters are presumed to be illegally registered until such time as they can prove otherwise. Its his burden – not their’s – and before this gets down the road too far a court of law should remind Mr. Gessler, himself a lawyer, the principles upon which our legal system works by issuing an injunction.  

  3. And they’re right, voters will not understand the Democrat desire to product noncitizens who may be registered to vote. Any attempt to fight Gessler pays right into his hands, and leaves voters wondering why Democrats don’t want to stop voter fraud.

    I have a theory!

    1. . . . approximately 4,000 people who will have been helped to make up their minds to vote against Republicans in this, and every other, election — and, for the rest of their lives.

      . . . approximately 4,000 people who will be voting for Gessler’s opponent the next time he runs for anything.

      Many more “wins” like this for your party, ArapaGOP, and you’ll soon be just Arapa__[this space for hire]__.

    2. Just so I understand, if a Democratic SoS were wasting this much taxpayer money on a blatantly partisan witchhunt, Republicans would be screaming not just for impeachment, but probably jail time, right?

      Keeping the proper perspective of course helps.  A Democratic President getting a blow job is an impeachable offense, but a GOP President condoning war crimes is worth an “attaboy”.

      As Pols points out, while it is inevitable that some were wrongly registered to vote (Motor Voter registration tends to do that), I’ll bet you $100 that Gessler will not find a single instance where one of them voted illegally.

      1. The Democrat SOS was wasting this much time and effort trying to disenfranchise tens of thousands of military service men and women.  

        It is interesting that the majority of illegal alien voters vote democratic just as it is true that the majority of dead people vote Democratic.  The Dems get all the Felons, Illegal Aliens, and Dead People.  Everyone understands this.

        Next thing you will be crying that Gessler is unfairly moving dead people off the voter rolls.

        1. stated flat out that when more people vote, Democrats win. Voter suppression efforts help the GOP. In this case it just so happens that the mechanism targets groups that tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

          In states like Ohio and Pennsylvania where barriers to voting include ID requirements and shortened early voting hours, the burden seems to be falling more on poor, rural and elderly voters. Those are not generally considered inherently Democratic leaning groups but the GOP still finds it worthwhile because driving down turnout is their best hope for winning.

    3. Why hasn’t Gessler simply referred them for prosecution for fraudulent voting?

      Answer: because, just like all the other numbers of “non-citizens registered to vote” he’s produced so far, he has no proof at all.

    4. If he did have that kind of evidence why doesn’t he make that precise accusation, set a date and time for a hearing, and let an administrative law judge decide; or as suggested by another blogger simply turn the names and evidence over to the local district attorney or the attorney general for prosecution. Instead, Mr. Gessler has said via letter to each of these voters is you prove to me you’re a citizen or I’m going to revoke your voter registration.

      That isn’t how a government under the rule of law operates, including here in Colorado. Mr. Gessler has the burden of proof to prove these particular voters aren’t citizens because he is the one who has made that charge based on what so far is flimsy assertions. For example, if, eight years ago, someone with a green card applied for a drivers license and was simultaneously registered to vote, then it is incumbent upon Mr. Gessler, to investigate and find out if that individual has, in the meantime, become a U.S. citizen. If not, then he has grounds to refer them for prosecution if they have voted and he can bring an administrative action to revoke their voter registration. But that isn’t how he is proceeding. Instead, he is saying to each of these voters, I have a hunch you may not be a citizen so you have to prove to me you are one or I’m going to revoke your voter registration. He has access to the Department of Homeland Security database. He needs to complete his investigation before leveling charges against anyone.

      My guess (and its just that) is he has gotten himself in so deep with baseless assertions about voter fraud in Colorado that he is now desperate to prove that even one registered voter is fraudulent. Even if one of the 4,000 doesn’t respond to his letter, he will revoke their registration and cry to the heavans that he found and eliminated one fraudulent voter. But it will mean nothing because when someone doesn’t respond to him it only means they did not respond. They may very well be a U.S. citizen, but they didn’t repond. However, he will assume, in most cases without evidence, that they are illegal. Let him then turn them over to the D.A.’s and attorney general for prosecution and watch as most of the cases are declined for lack of any real evidence.

      Mr. Gessler is an experienced lawyer. He has no excuse for his behavior and no logical defense based on the duties of his office.

      1. the least efficient caging operation ever. There’s probably a non-zero percentage of people on the list that have moved- possibly out of state- and not updated their voter registration information. Gessler is guaranteed a number of hits from that fact alone.

        I’m actually surprised that Gessler didn’t run this like an actual caging operation. He could’ve simply held onto his list of 4000 and had poll watchers challenge them at the polls, strengthening his case about fraudulent voting. Of course he would’ve had to have been confident in the result. This way he can just engage in a little voter intimidation and affect a pivotal swing state for the GOP in a presidential year.  

  4. Specifically, Gessler is trying to suppress hispanic votes.

    The question is whether this is a case of Discriminatory EFFECT, or Discriminatory INTENT.

    In Texas the Court ruled that the redistricting INTENDED to discriminate against hispanic voters.

    A redistricting plan signed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) intentionally discriminated against Hispanic voters, a three-judge panel unanimously ruled Tuesday. The judges found that seats belonging to white incumbent members of Congress were protected under the plan while districts belonging to incumbent minorities were targeted for changes.

    The court was “persuaded by the totality of the evidence that the plan was enacted with discriminatory intent,” according to the ruling. There was “sufficient evidence to conclude that the Congressional Plan was motivated, at least in part, by discriminatory intent,” the court found.

    The three judges said they were overwhelmed with the amount of evidence showing the congressional redistricting plan was intentionally discriminatory, writing in a footnote that parties “have provided more evidence of discriminatory intent than we have space, or need, to address here.”

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