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April 22, 2013 02:47 PM UTC

NAACP Condemns Anti-Election Bill Mailers

  • by: Colorado Pols


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is out with a statement this afternoon endorsing Colorado House Bill 1303, the Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act being debated now at the state capitol–and condemning a mailer sent this past weekend attacking county clerks who support the bill. That attack mailer, as we discussed this weekend, appears to have been altered to remove African-American faces from a photo of a crowd of voters in line to vote.

The NAACP Colorado Montana Wyoming State Area Conference today endorsed a bill that will expand options for voters, modernize our elections and save money for counties around our state.

The NAACP State Conference also expressed serious concern regarding Secretary of State Scott Gessler's close ties to a group that sent postcards to voters over the weekend in two western slope counties. Those postcard contained images in which the faces of African-American voters had been digitally removed and replaced with the faces of White voters… [Pols emphasis]

"The NAACP State Conference stands with the Colorado County Clerks Association, AARP CO, the League of Women Voters, Colorado Progressive Coalition and many other voters' rights and civil rights organizations in endorsing this legislation.

On a related matter, the NAACP State Conference is seriously concerned about an anonymous group, reported to have close ties the Secretary of State, which sent out fliers in La Plata County and Mesa County, criticizing their clerks support of the bill. The information was not only wrong, there is evidence that the faces of African-American voters were intentionally digitally removed from the picture.

The media should join the NAACP State Conference and others in questioning the Secretary of State about this apparent attempt to change the very face of Colorado in ways that lack inclusion and lack truth. Whoever did this should be ashamed. What message does this send to people of color in Colorado — and all of us — about our elections system?

The media must call on Gessler to reveal his ties, denounce this outrageous negative, misleading, exclusionary and divisive effort — or forfeit his ability to remain our Secretary of State with any credibility." [Pols emphasis]


82 thoughts on “NAACP Condemns Anti-Election Bill Mailers

  1. Apart from the validity of the photos, I'm not really seeing the political benefit of removing the African American faces from the photo.  What are you contending the reasoning could have been? 

    1. I've been puzzling over that myself…seems pointless…just stupid racism.

      Maybe they were trying to imply that white folks go to the polls and "others" vote by mail…hard to figure out why crazy-ass people do what they do.

    2. That's easy, Elliot. Mesa County is less than 1% African American. The message would have been lost on local GOPers had there been some people in the photo who don't look like 'Murica.

      I like that you don't understand what makes your disgusting fellow Republicans tick. It shows there is hope for you.

      1. Curmudgeon, 
        I am explicitly stating that I can see no political benefit to anybody associated with making this mailer for whitewashing this photo.  Maybe I'm missing something, but I am just not seeing any benefit at all.  This seems to be a mistake on the side of purchasing an already edited stock photo.  

        1. And why, pray tell, would it be already edited to erase black people? And why would a professional pre-editing a stock photo be so lazy as to just duplicate the same white lady not elsewhere in the crowd, as often was done ( until it was pointed out) on college brochures to make campus scenes appear to include a more diverse mix, but right beside her, completely obvious?   What pro would also so inartfully smudge out another "wrong color" crowd member?

          The only advantage I cans see is that this group was aiming to appeal to their own overwhelmingly white voters'  fear of those "urban" voters who would presumably be the ones casting fraudulent votes right and left by mail, as felons, non-residents or from the grave and canceling out legitimate nice white votes. They preferred for the nice but threatened voters waiting in line like good litttle citizens to be all white.

          Of course that's just a theory but, regardless, there was some reason for amateurs connected with the group that generated this to mess with this image to make it all white, whether it makes much sense or not.  It's clearly not a professional photo shop job and it's hard to think of an innocent reason for this group to purposely, hurriedly and clumsily erase black people. 

          Here's an idea. All along Republican County Clerks have been quite adamant that the problems Gessler loves to get hysterical about are so rare, if they exist at all, as to require none of his proposed draconian solutions and that they are confident in the elections they run. You can avoid any liberal bias or paranoia by asking one or more of those Republican County Clerks why they think blacks were erased.  County Clerks are pretty easy to contact. Then maybe you could share your findings here with us. Or just keep insisting there's no effort to use racism  on the right and we can't know what''s in people's hearts.  Whatever. 

          1. I don't think the individual county clerks were involved in creating the mailer.  As for the photoshop job, is there anyway to search if that same photoshopped image was used or offered for sale elsewhere?

            1. Another reading comprehension failure.I never said they were involved in the mailer. Quite the opposite I pointed out that they approved the legislation.  That approval means they, Republican Copunty Clerks are on the same side as Dems where this is concerned, not the side of Gessler or those who sent out this  mailer as an attack on a Republican County Clerk. I merely suggested that their view of why a particular race was targeted to be erased from the attack flier might have more credidbility because it would not be coming from Dems.  You might be interested int heir take. I would be, too.

              I think I know now why you never seem to directly address anyone's points. You just skim through comments to see what the general subject is and then you respond with your mainly irrelevant tap dancing because you either don't bother to read them carefully or because you have a serious  reading comprehension deficit. How else could you think I was saying that  I was saying  Republican County Clerks had anything to do with sending out this mailer?

              Hope the bold helps you detect what I'm actually saying, not that it shouldn't have been perfectly clear the first time. Congrats on getting through law school despite your apparently rather severe limitations.

              1. You refuse to tie yourself up in Gordon's knotty jumble of jargon and sophistry in honor of the sheer brillance on display and for that, BlueCat, you should suffer to more of the same. 

                1. My typos weren't too brilliant but what can I say?  I hate the lack of easy spell checking editing at the new site.  Today I'm in a hurry but other times I look it over carefully and still miss stuff!

    1. Dude, come on. It's a Washington Post image from last November. It has not been released as a stock image to be altered. Can you find it on a stock image service? They are publicly searchable.

      I know it's hard to accept, but some of your fellow Republicans really are douchebags…

          1. yeah, a stock-image-for-lizard-brained-racists service, where African American faces are replaced by copying and pasting the woman next to it.  I am unsure how any thinkng person can see it as anything other than it is, a 'ham-handed racist dog whistle.' 

        1. Duke, 
          I have no problem calling out people on the right as jerks when they are in fact jerks and I have done it on many occasions.  Right now I cannot see how anybody competent in GOP politics would intentionally whitewash this photo. 

            1. I read your page.

              How can the same guy that so elequently, courageously, and passionately defends the rights of others at the risk of alienating himself from these hate filled facebook friends be the same person professing to be ignorant, indeed to the point of naivete, of the day to day, tactical decisions and actions of the activists, strategists, and political officers of the republican party?

              You recognize bigotry toward those of the Muslim Faith, but can't see bigotry, dog whistle politics, in the mailers?

              Come on, Elliot,

              I will admit though, while you like to bullshit us, jerk our chains, light us up, and piss us off with your on and on teasing and non sequiturs, you were goddamn elequent and someone to tip your cap to in that facebook page you gave us a glimpse of.

              As they say, when confronting your fellow "conservatives", "Boy, you got sand!".

              Hats off to ya, Elliot……….for that!

              1. Thanks for the hat tip on the FB post.  As for your question, because I defend people who are under attack when I think they are being wronged.  Its just sort of what I do even when I should be getting home early to play with my daughter. 

                1. But you didn't answer my question. You avoided it, went around it, and changed the subject.

                  Again, how on earth do you see this as anything other than a racist gambit by the red party officials responsible for the mailer, designed to appeal to the fearfull, racially bigoted tendencies of the repub voters it was intended for?

                  Isn't Mesa County overwhelmingly white and redleg?

                  Please, be serious.

          1. Elliot, you answer your own point — you set an impossibly high bar expecting someone competent in GOP politics to be involved with this affair.

      1. If this was 1960s Alabama Cholera you'd have a strong argument.  This isn't 1960s Alabama – its Colorado and 2013.  Again, I cannot see how intentionally whitewashing this photo would be of  any political benefit.  And I think, if you are being honest with yourself, you cannot see it either. 

        1. The problem is, you are not being honest with YOURSELF. There are racist Republicans. There are racists Republicans in Colorado. There are racist Republicans in Mesa County. This mailing was intended to cater to them. Unless you can show me the "stock photo" with these alterations, you're arguing against common knowledge.

          1. I don't deny that there are racist Republicans or Republicans that have issues with different religions/sexual orientations.  However, apart from your speculative theory below (that it was photoshopped so people would think the line was actually occurring in Mesa County), the theory that this was intentionally done by racist political operatives seems to be a massive stretch based on flimsy evidence. 

            1. What is a "massive stretch" is the suggestion that this is not EXACTLY what it looks like. I suggest you give it up for your own credibility's sake.

              1. Jeffco, the only argument that I have seen that remotely makes sense as to motivations is that this was done to simulate the Western Slope demographics.  There are so many problems with that argument I don't know where to begin:

                1) It doesn't simulate said demographics
                2) The GOP has been saying, again and again, that their same day voting registration problem is about fraud risk and not race.  If that is the argument you are going on, you'd want MORE african american and minority faces in your mailer not less.  Photoshopping them "IN" would make much more sense then photoshopping them "OUT". 
                3) The risk of discovery for any illusory benefit would be so great as to make use of the mailer fool hardy.  

                I'm sure I could think of other reasons but the Conventional Wisdom here at Pols on this does not come close to being persuasive. 

                1. Fact:  This is not a pre-edited professionally photo shopped stock image.

                  Fact: It was edited to show only white people waiting in line to vote.

                  Fact: whoever chose to do so had a reason.

                  It could be a very stupid reason.  The person responsible could have less sense than a piece of toast.  Since not all reasons are good ones and not all people are particularly bright, arguing that it makes no sense for any competent person to do this for racist reasons and therefore that just can't be the case is a very weak argument.

                  On the other hand assuming that the purposeful exclusion of a particular race has something to do with… ummmm…. racism is hardly an unreasonabele stretch. In fact it's much less of a stretch than your argument.


            2. Reforms allow more scary folk to vote that don't look like us.  Bad bad Dems allowing more scary looking folks that don't look like us to be voting.  Its not geared to the hiogh-info voter.  Its geared to people worried about letting dead people vote and Mexicans and people shades darker than the 'average' Mesa County TeaPublican.  Its an image that stimulates the lizard brain not the cortex. 

              Are you purposefully obtuse or really that thick-headed? 

              1. Do you have evidence that editing out the African Americans would be perceived to make the mailer resonate more with its target audience? I'm still not buying that.

                Apart from this is another issue.  Gessler isn't with Hackstaff any more. Let's say a Hackstaff attorney screws something up in Court – would that mean you guys would then blame him for his former firm's activities? 

                1. You love sophistry.   I like Occam. 

                  Your invented reasoning strikes me as far more unlikely as someone at the dirty-tricks dark money shop edited (perhaps against the lisc agreement at Getty Images for their copyrighted material) a shot to take out black folk. 

                  One would need to talk to them to understand the true intent, I suppose, and their line of reasoning.  But there are plausible suppositions there as well. 

                  It stinks.  It’s slimy.  And it’s troubling that its coming from the SoS's former firm, in defense of his position, against the clerks he is supposed to be working with to implement fair elections–a firm he fully expected the Colorado taxpayer to allow him to continue moonlighting at…

                  Of course you 'buying it' or not doesn't matter.  To me, or to most of the public is my guess that doesn't have your propensity to pretzel logic. 

                  (Although my guess is that Arapa-Bot will gush all over your comments  on his next drive-by).


                2. It just happens to share the same address as Gessler's old firm. It just happens to have been clumsily photoshopped to more closely match Mesa County's demographic. It just happens to have been innocently picked up by this group and used in an attack mailer that's blatantly lying.    If you had any real pride in your intelligence and judgement, you'd be ashamed of yourself for defending it with the scattergun approach, throwing BS theories against the wall in a desperate attempt to make anything stick.    Why can't you just say it was a shitty thing for them to do? No one's asking you to support it.   Democrats do shitty things, too. See? I just admitted it, and the world didn't end.   But I have no plans to run for office. I can afford the luxury of a spine. 

            3. Elliot, quit while you're only this far behind.

              It is what it is.

              The one thing I agree with you on is that there is no way, based on what we know now, Gessler can be pinned to this on a pure facts on the ground basis.

              But you're fighting a losing battle trying to argue this isn't pinko racism, a trait held in the vast majority of white evangelical conservatives……otherwise they wouldn't be white conservatives…….that's being played and manipulated in the mailers.

              Elliot, based on your facebook page, you're better than this.

        2. If you think racism and dog whistle politics doesn't work in Colorado, you have a lot to learn about this state. There's a hell of a lot less institutional racism here than in Alabama–despite the fact that the KKK essentially ran the state less than 100 years ago–it's true. But I think you're the one who's not being honest with yourself.

          I will say, I truly appreciate your thoughtful comments on this blog, and I admire you sticking to your conservative guns. It's just that this is the most obvious, ham-handed attempt at racial dog whistling I've seen in a long time, and it's unfortunate that the Republicans would stoop to something so low and disgusting.


    2. Elliot, an equally plausible theory to yours is that there is a Democratic mole in the Hackstaff office attempting to undermine Gessler.

      Probaby trying to provoke Gessler and Hackstaff to sue each other for gross incompetence.  Seems to be a pretty open-and-shut case for both sides.

      1. Dave – if it was intentionally white washed there would have to been a political reason to do it.  What political reason do you see (let alone a political reason that would outweigh a risk of discovery)? 

        1. Elliot: as I explained, the motivation is very simple. It's supposed to be a line of angry Mesa County voters getting screwed, but there are not enough African Americans in Mesa County to make the original photo believable. Also, there are Republicans in counties that are less than 1% African American are indeed racists.

          You need to face facts. Republicans are indeed capable of this, and there are many twisted Republicans out gthere who would consider this necessary to be successful. That this doesn't include you may be a credit to you, but it doesn't change the tendencies of the targets of this mailer.

          Sorry, man. 

          1. Ok – so you think the photo was photoshopped not for any racist reasons but so that it purportedly reflected the demographic of Mesa county? 

              1. Sorry if I was unclear. I see now my post had typos. But you are correct, I believe the photoshopping was to make the image palatable to a 99% white audience.

            1. No, wilfully ignorant Elliot, I am saying it WAS done for racist reasons, AND to reflect the demographic of Mesa County. Not "but," "and." These are not mutually exclusive concepts.

            2. Elliot, please go back and look at the original mailer and the original photo. The only reason to alter the photo is to make it more effective. Look at the scary language that says the election reform bill is an effort by Dems to rig elections by letting anyone cast a ballot. Set in the context of an election lost by Republicans due in large part to the votes of minorities for Democrats, the message doesn't jibe with a photo of a diverse group of people. The mailer is intended to convey the message that Republicans will lose something if this bill passes. That message doesn't work if there are blacks in the picture. The people who sent this mailer could have feigned innocence if they had chosen a picture with just dour looking white people in it. Instead, they made their intentions perfectely clear by removing the blacks from the photo. 

              Instead of just picking one line from BC's post to focus on, you should have read the second paragraph: "…there are many twisted Republicans out there who would consider this necessary to be successful."

  2. A few quick points:
    1) Citizens for Free Elections is NOT a new group.  Its been around since at least 2009.  See here:

    2) Associating Gessler with this makes no sense.  Gessler hasn't worked at Hackstaff in 3 years – he campaigned in 2010 and was SOS in 2011 and 2012.  

    3) Blaming Hackstaff for this at all makes no sense.  Hackstaff is the registered agent here.  Being the registered agent means they accept service of process and maybe make sure that campaign laws are being complied with.  It does not mean that they review these things for substance. 

    4) As I said above, and have repeatedly argued, believing this was intentional makes no sense.  There is no political benefit in photoshopping out African Americans from a mailer like this, let alone benefit that outweighs risk of detection. 

    And on that I need to get some actual paid work done. 

    1. …no political benefit in photoshopping out African Americans from a mailer like this…


      Good. Then the GOTP should go right on photoshopping for race or any other identifying characteristic they like. 

    2. "As I said above, and have repeatedly argued, believing this was intentional makes no sense."

      Please explain how photoshopping white faces onto black ones is accidental, not intentional.  Show your work.


      1. I'm pretty sure it was photoshopped at some point.  I don't accept though that it was photoshopped by people associated with this mailer as that does not make any political sense. 

        1. What really makes no sense is that it was photoshopped to eliminate a particular race for no reason. But never mind. Live within the bubble of your circular reasoning.  Reject even the possibility that any plausible argument your opponents put forth might have merit.. You always do anyway.

          1. Bluecat,

            Gordon's Knot:  the simplest and by far most plausible explanation is the people doing the mailer unknowingly got a photoshopped picture from somewhere else.  In your rush to condemn the GOP you would have them intentionally do something that would be up among the higher orders of political incompetence.

              1. You are the one studiously avoiding the simplest explanation. There is no reason why a general stock image site would want to photo-shop out a particular race.  Excluding a particular race is something that has a very low likelihood of being done inadvertantly. Anything is possible but see your own damn Gordian Knot definition.

                You also you keep referring to the political stupidity as a reason the GOP would have no motive but this isn't the GOP.  As you yourself state it's Citizens for Free Elections, an extreme conservative support group.  If Gessler has a lick of sense he had no direct involvement but there are many groups putting out mailers and ads that cause the candidates, party and issues they seek to support trouble instead. There are also many which are looked on very kindly by their technically uninvolved political allies.

                Your efforts to characterize views that the white washing was on purpose as far fetched and tortured are themselves far fetched and tortured. I'll see your Gordian Knot and raise you an If It Looks Like a Duck….

                That said, You probably won''t read this any more carefully than you read my comment on the attack on, not collusion of a Republican County Clerk.

            1. No, the more plausible explanation is a dark-money dirty-tricks shop photoshopped the image itself (against the license agreement)  to better appeal (rightly or wrongly) to the low-info TeaPublican base that is actually fearful enough to think that Democrats want to make it so dead people can more easily vote. 

            2. " In your rush to condemn the GOP you would have them intentionally do something that would be up among the higher orders of political incompetence."

              Um, you might get credit for this answer, but not in the way you intend.


              1. I'll tell you what: If it turns out that the group intentionally photoshopped the pictures I'll call them out as idiots on my facebook page. 

        2.  I don't accept though that it was photoshopped by people associated with this mailer as that does not make any political sense.  


          Elliot… do you read what you write, do you think about it before you write it?

          How do you not see that this is proof that the people who did this are bigoted, racist, people and THEY DON'T HAVE political sense. That's why the Republican party is melting into little puddles…It has succumbed to the worst human characteristics of bigotry and greed. 

          There are good people who still think of themselves as Republicans. People who understand that a world in which we exalt wealth above work, maintain a feudal system in which 1% of the people control the majority of the nations assets, and hate each other because of our faith, is not a Christian world…nor is it, I believe, a Muslim world..Buddist ?…don't think know.

          I know you have a good time being so stupid. You elicit a great deal of response… I hope you continue to provide us with an opportunity to shoot the clay pigeons you continually throw for us.



            1. It's all about results, Eliot. They speak for themselves.

              By the way, a friend who reads this blog but doesn't post asked me to call you a fucking idiot, so I thought I would oblige…Eliot…you fucking idiot.

              Nothing personal…  wink 

    1. My understanding is (but I don't haven't researched this, so I might be wrong) that mailers have to list a registered agent.  NOT LEGAL ADVICE. 

  3. I'm with Elliot that it makes no sense for the image to be edited that way. But I disagree with him that that is a compelling argument that they didn't do it. A simplier argument is that the people involved are stupid. And lazy. The whole job was sloppy.

    I'm also guessing they didn't pay for the use of the photo. If they were paying, then could search Getty and find exactly what they wanted with no editing. But if they're looking for a freebie, they have to find a high res photo in a news article, and that's a lot more work.

    As to was it racist… As many here already posted, removing just African-American faces has no reason other than racism. A racism that cannot accept having even 2 out of many voters who are non-white.

    And to the lame excuse that they got the doctored photo from somewhere else, if that was the case the group would have presented that info to the news media already.

    Finally was gessler involved. Well the effort was stupid, lazy, and is a blatant attempt to minimize registration by "others." So that shouts out Gessler. But it could also well be others who match the Gessler pattern. So on this question, we don't know enough yet – either way.

    1. David, 
      I'm going to stop you right there on Gessler's involvement.  Your only link is that Hackstaff, his firm from three years ago, was involved as a registered agent and maybe as legal counsel.  Being a registered agent/attorney does not mean you approve or even plan out the form of a mailer.  So even if you go along with the notion that Citizens for Fair Elections (or whatever the group was called) intentionally photoshopped this thing (a big stretch), it is a further stretch from their to say that the Hackstaff firm bears responsiblity for that as their registered agent and even a further stretch from that further strectch to say that Gessler was  involved b/c he used to work there three years ago.

  4. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is out with a statement this afternoon endorsing Colorado House Bill 1303, the Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act being debated now at the state capitol–and condemning a mailer sent this past weekend attacking county clerks who support the bill.


    Wow- so that was the point of this post.

    While it is possible the blogger who successfully derailed the discussion into trivia and arcana while creating some question about why the NAACP would have have a problem with the mailer, the most probable explanation for the lack of discussion of 1303 is that the opposition does not want to discuss the content on the merits or issues (squirrel!) .

    Instead, the opposition would like the discussion to be about …something else (bear!)

    1303 makes sense. And I find it utterly bizarre that a preponderance of county clerks, R clerks,  support it, in fact helped write it, and the Secretary of State stands in opposition.  I suppose it could be a kind of petulant whining – I might hve been more cooperative if I Was involved with the creation, but I wasn't even allowed to see it until now

    Seems far more plausible that the SOS opposition is a political calculation that has nothing to do with the actual merits or claimed risks of the bill. And it may be a coincidence that the SOS's former law firm is the registered agent and may or may not even be aware of the opposition mailer.


    Off to a slow start- I still feel like the Cubs could contend this year.

    1. The flyer is a pile of racist, fear-mongering crap, and yet ElliotFladen focusses repeatedly on the minutiae and intent of the photo.

      Obviously, the political calculation and intent of the flyer is to create fear and build support for Gessler's efforts to make voting harder. The political calculation and intent of ElliotFladen is to divert attention from the racist flyer to a trivial side-show. 

      ElliotFladen is just an internet troll. Classic anarchist strategy at political meetings.

      1. He also has  severe reading comprehension problem.  He thought I was saying Repubican County Clerks were involved when I was pointing out that they were not at all on Gesslers or the The Concerned Citizens for Free elections side on this issue but, as Republicans, might be a good source for an unbiased opinion about the white washing in a conservative GOP supporting group's mailer targeting Republican County Clerk. He's quite priceless.

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