Mission Accomplished? No New Candidates, No Mail Ballots Either


Colorado Springs Gazette:

Today Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced that Jan Brooks, Libertarian candidate for the State Senate District 11 recall election, failed to collect enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

The Pueblo Chieftain reported this morning that a potential alternate candidate in the SD-3 recall against Sen Angela Giron, Richard Anglund, also did not submit enough signatures to reach the ballot.

What does this mean? It means the lawsuit which stopped the delivery of mail ballots to registered voters in these elections and–at least at the time–invalidated mail ballots that had already been sent to overseas military voters was pointless. It's our understanding that those already-mailed overseas ballots will count now. But a much larger problem is, mail ballots were prevented from being mailed to tens of thousands of voters…for nothing.

Folks, we can't help but strongly suspect that stopping those mail ballots from going out was the only goal here all along. It's a generally accepted fact that lower turnout and more difficult voting in these recalls, as with most elections, will favor the GOP's successor candidates.

Did Libertarians just get used to suppress the vote for the GOP, or were they willing agents?

29 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JeffcoBlue says:

    This would be a masterstroke of vote suppression. 70% of voters vote by mail. Those ballots were stopped by, as it turns out, bullshit.

    A textbook dirty trick…

    • Moderatus says:

      Oh come on. The law is the law. Mail ballots violated the recall law whether there are candidates or not. Democrats need to point the finger back at themselves.

      • Mail ballots didn't violate the law, M. Not giving other candidates the chance to get on the ballot violated an unused constitutional provision that pretty much everyone (including the Secretary of State, who raised no such objection during the crafting of the new election law) missed.

        Now that those extra candidates failed to make the ballot, the previously printed ballots should be presumed to be valid. (Under Colorado election law, the law is to be liberally construed to maximize participation of eligible voters – that's codified in the very opening part of Title 1.)

        • gaf says:

          Not only did Gessler not raise objections concerning the recall conflict this year, but last year Gessler (and El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams) supported a Repulbican bill that passed that specifically addressed recall elections. Both urged passage because they claimed it would eliminate conflicts in different provisions for recall elections. Neither saw, or at least neither spoke about, the conflict with the Constitution. The "ten days" to petiton onto the ballot for a recall came from that 2012 law. This year's elections bill, 1303, was drafted to address other issues, and simply repeated the existing recall language that was presumed to have been cleared up adequately the previous year.

          If the drafters of 1303 were lax in anything, it was in assuming that Gessler, Williams, et. al. knew what they were doing and solved the recall conflicts in 2012. To blame the drafters of 1303 is to say, "You should have known we would screw up." (Of course, there is a bit of truth to that!) Gessler has backed off a bit on blaming 1303, but Williams hasn't.

          • Moderatus says:

            Do you know what these sounds like to me? Excuses.

            Excuses and TLDR won't win these elections.

            • gaf says:

              Excuses? Well, yeah. My whole point was that Gessler, Williams, et. al. are making excuses by blaming HB 1303, when the problem was present in the 2012 bill they supported because, they claimed, it would eliminate conflicts in election provisions for recalls. It was a recall bill! It didn't address this problem. Gessler and Williams and all are making excuses for their failure to solve the recall problem in a bill specifically intended to do that by instead blaming 1303. The drafters of 1303 never claimed to address recall provisions. They simply included the language of existing law.

              It is also important to note that Williams says the problem was that he "had" to do a mail ballot election (the original plan) because of 1303. The truth is that El Paso County has recently done every election they could by mail ballot, and would have chosed to do this one by mail ballot even without the passage of 1303. The timing problem–petition deadline vs when ballots needed to be mailed out–was in the 2012 law and would have presented exactly the same problem for a mail ballot election under the old law if 1303 had not been passed. The timing of finding out about the problem, the lawsuit, etc., would have been the same.The disruption of the election would have been the same.

              Under the previous law, they could have done a polling place election without a court order. But they had no intention of doing that because they were not aware of–or disregarded–the constitutional provision. (If they were aware earlier, surely they would have raised the issue at that time.) Williams is making excuses for his failure to catch the problem by blaming–inaccurately–1303.

              I'm not sure what "TLDR" is, but I agree excuses don't win elections. However, my comment was not about "winning elections"–it was about laying out the facts.

  2. n3b says:

    I am happy with this outcome. Mail ballots are an invitation to fraud. They shouldn't be used in recalls, and in my opinion shouldn't be used at all.

    If Democrats are going to win this, it will have to be fair and square at the polling place. It seems that is what you are afraid of most.

    • DaftPunk says:

      While we're at it, let's limit the franchise to white male property owners.

    • BlueCat says:

      Except that there's no evidence of mail ballot voter fraud. Grumpy old Rs love them. As for whether Libertarians were used or willing agents, my guess is used. From what I've seen of them they aren't a very bright,  knowledgeable bunch.

    • Davie says:

      Yes, modern, electronic voting machines are so much secure, especially by companies that are major GOP contributors:

      Voting machines used by as many as a quarter of American voters heading to the polls in 2012 can be hacked with just $10.50 in parts and an 8th grade science education, according to computer science and security experts at the Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. The experts say the newly developed hack could change voting results while leaving absolutely no trace of the manipulation behind.


      Diebold voting machines can be hacked by remote control


    • Mail balloting isn't an invitation to fraud, n3b. There are suitable protections in place to prevent large scale (i.e. election altering) fraud with mail-in ballots – registration requirements, signature requirements. If you're worried about dead illegal immigrants from Chicago stuffing your ballot box with mail-in ballots, I'm here to say you can rest easy.

      Mail-in ballots do have a weakness compared to in-person voting – they don't guarantee a privately cast ballot free of the influence of others. That means that votes could be bought, or undue influence (say a church "vote session", corporate "employee vote help meeting", or union "vote-in") could be applied.

  3. mamajama55 says:

    Of course, it was intentional voter suppression. If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, and suppresses 20% of Democratic voters, and doesn't accomplish anything else useful, then one can infer that the ploy worked as intended.

    As I wrote in my own diary, the intent of the lawsuit, promoted by Marilyn Marks, used the Libertarian candi,dates, and Richard Anglund, to blow up the mail ballot, thereby disenfranchising voters.

    Marks works with Independence Institute and Scott Gessler to suppress excessive voting in Colorado. Anytime fewer people vote, Republicans are happier.

    I think that the candidates were used – Anglund and Butt, more or less unwillingly. Brooks seemed pretty enthusiastic about the whole thing.  Herpin and Rivera, of course, were in early on. None of these guys are exactly stellar candidates, especially considering the outstanding legislators they are trying to replace.

    • bullshit! says:

      If these recalls are lost, we could look back on this as the reason why. Killing mail ballots threw this whole election into chaos, made it much harder for Democrats to turn out the vote relative to energize Republicans, and now we know it was for nothing.

      It's obvious now why Gessler pulled out of the appeal too. This was such a setup…

  4. notaskinnycook says:

    *In keeping with the photo that accompanied this story, I will now caption it, "I smell a rat".

  5. DavidThi808 says:

    When there was a possibility the petitions might be thrown out all of us Dems were thrilled that the election might be quashed on a technicality. Now that the Republicans gained an advantage due to a technicality everyone here is oh so indignant that they played the system.

    It was a legal maneuver. Nothing wrong with playing the system for advantage. It sucks because it could decide the election, but it wasn't wrong of them to try this.

    What Dems should be upset about is that the Morse & Giron teams should have been out there helping the Libertarians get enough signatures. That should have been job #1. A major advantage pissed away.

    • I do think the two are slightly different.

      In the first case, petition language describing the actual process was left off; that's misleading IMHO, and could alter someone's choice of signing. Now, Democrats didn't challenge that up to the top court, and they lost the initial ruling, so no use crying over spilt milk there.

      In the second, a constitutional provision wasn't followed because the law prescribed a different schedule. The court made the correct (if terribly inconvenient to voters) ruling – assuming they didn't miss some Federal statutory provision that I couldn't find – and I'm not even bothering to consider whether this was a play by the Republicans or not.

      The common theme in both cases: voters got the shaft. That's something that we as Democrats should point out and fight against. And – how convenient – it follows a pattern by Republicans: decieve the voter, deny them accurate information, and obstruct them from conveniently accessing the ballot box. Republicans around the country have said it in plain language: they don't want everyone to vote, and the people who are most affected by voting restrictions trend Democratic so it helps the GOP to enact restrictions. This should be a Democratic talking point: when asked to respond to ANY Republican who is obfuscating, start by pointing out that they're trying to mislead the public. Every time.

      At this point our job as Democrats is to GOTV. After the 10th we can point out that there's a gaping hole in the recall election procedure as it stands – one that could be resolved either by statute (allow extra arrival time for recall ballots after the scheduled election day) or by initiative (repeal the constitutional provision that doesn't provide adequate time to mail ballots before election day and still receive them back by that date). Until then, GOTV.

      • gaf says:

        Good comments, Phoenix. Right now, it is GOTV.

        Note that the simplest way to change the constitutional provision is by a referred measure from the state legislature, rather than a citizens initiative.

    • gaf says:

      Why should Morse & Giron have helped the Libertarians get enough signatures? How would it have helped Morse or Giron on the recall question? Fewer pro-recall folks voting Yes? How would that work? More Libertarians coming out to vote for their candidate but voting No on the recall? That doesn't make sense. I don't see a "major advantage" with getting a Libertarian on the ballot.

      If they thought having another candidate on the ballot would help on the recall isssue, they would have run a Democrat–not a Libetarian!

      • BlueCat says:

        umm…it's called splitting the opposition vote. And of course Morse and Giron couldn't openly work to help their potential opponents get more signatures so David wouldn't know if it they had or not. 

        Schemes to support another party's candidate, whether a weaker opponent in the other party's primary or a third party candidate seen as taking more of the opponents votes, rarely have that much real influence in the end. 

        Back in the day we heard a lot, for instance, about Rs contributing to Nader but there were plenty of lefties happy to throw away their vote on the guy without any help from the right. The butterfly ballot lost Dems more votes in Broward County Florida by accident than any R plot involving funding Buchanan there. Which is not to say that election wasn't stolen but not that way.

         It's sounds all nice and cloak and daggery but rarely amounts to all that much.

        • gaf says:

          I understand the various ways of trying to influence the candidate election. I just don't see how "split the vote" on the candidates would help Morse or Giron on the recall question.

  6. mamajama55 says:

    BC and David th808,

    Sorry, but you still don't understand how the recall ballot is set up. It doesn't matter one bit to the Senator under recall which candidate is voted as a successor. They're not really running against each other. Below is language from El Paso sample ballot (Pueblo's will be essentially the same):

    Recall question: Shall ____ (candidate) be recalled from the office of Senate District ____? Yes/ no

    Successor Candidates (Vote for 1): Candidate nominated to succeed Senator ____ if he/she should be recalled:

    Name________ Republican

    Name___(write in)

    So the way this works, if more people vote yes on the recall question, the senator is recalled. If more people vote no, that doesn't happen. If more people vote yes on the recall question, then the successor candidate with the most votes wins the seat. So in theory, a successor candidate could win a seat with 26% of the vote. Coincidentally, that happens to be the percentage of most right wing whack jobs in the general population.

    But I hope you see now why "splitting the vote" between Republicans and Libertarians is absolutely immaterial. I was worried that Democrat Anglund would pull some Dems to vote yes on the recall, and yes for him, but he was such a terrible candidate that that didn't happen.

    What the Colorado Supreme Court decided today was that someone could vote for a successor candidate without voting on the recall question. That's all well and good, but it still won't matter at all unless the majority of voters vote to recall the sitting Senator. The CSC had to give guidance on it because Ms. Marks was making noise about how unfair it was that voters who chose not to vote on the recall question wouldn't have their successor votes counted.


    • DavidThi808 says:

      I forgot about the 2 different votes. You're right that there's no split the vote on the recall part. Sorry.

    • BlueCat says:

      Of course you're right. Wonder how many of the voters completely understand the process without suffering the same mind farts David and I just did?

      My main point was in answer to Dave's contention that Morse and Giron ought to be funding Libertarians and I was thinking in terms of straight forward elections. Trying to create havoc by influencing who wins primaries in the other party or by supporting a third party vote drainer against the opposition rarely does the trick in ordinary elections. As you have just reminded us, in  a recall election, with it's dual nature, it goes from unlikely to help much to making no sense at all.

      This also makes me wonder why Ms. Marks would be so concerned about ensuring that voters could fail to vote for recall but still vote for a candidate? You'd think she would want to make very sure that that those who want a change would be sure not to skip the recall vote. Or is she hoping those who support the Dem will skip it and just vote for the Dem? 

      Will voters be thinking all this through? What if a majority vote for recall in that phase but a majority also votes Dem in the second phase as would be theoretically possible if a smaller over all number vote in the recall phase so the two pools of voters are not identical and disparate in size?  Then is the Dem recalled in the first vote but reinstated in the second?  Granted that's not at all likely, but in theory?

      • The realist says:

        From mamajama's info above re: El Paso County's ballot, it does not look as if the potentially recalled officeholder's name appears at all in the second part of the ballot, i.e. no Dem to be voted on in the second part.


        • BlueCat says:

          Missed that, too. This time, I think I've got it!   People can vote no and still vote for a candidate but don't have to vote yes or no in order to vote for a replacement and only a replacement candidate. Why do I keep messing this up in my head? Probably because we've never had a recall election like this before. 

          It still seems as though anyone hoping to replace the Dem would want to be sure as many as possible know that they need to vote yes on the recall first.  If "no"  wins nothing else matters. But then Libertarians normally don't run in elections like this here in Colorado to win, just to make a point 

          Sorry and thanks to all of those who aren't having nearly as much trouble with this as I apparently am.  I think I've got it now. I guess I was garbling it up in my mind as a do-over which required making the choice from scratch in a new election. Didn't complete the thinking through process which would have told me that wasn't it. Thanks again.

          • The realist says:

            And just think how much more time WE are spending trying to understand how it works, compared to the many "low information" voters out there. I wonder how many will even know what the word "recall" means on the ballot – will some think it means vote again for their Dem candidate, and mistakenly vote YES?


  7. mamajama55 says:

    Both the recall and anti-recall campaigns are spending big bucks and  hours to educate voters to vote either "Yes" or "No" on the recall question. Signage is everywhere in El Paso and Pueblo counties. So I'm actually not worried about voters being confused on how to vote their conscience on the recall.

    I'm still more worried about making sure voters get the chance to vote, period. So, I'm working on it.

    Marilyn Marks, on the other hand, would prefer less voting, thank you. All of her history, with Citizen Center, over the last few years has shown that she is suspicious of voters, thinks that they're up to no good and will cheat if given any opportunity or legal loophole to wiggle through.  In this, she is an ally of partisan Secretary of State Scott Gessler, although she has also sued him in his professional capacity.

    The fact that Colorado has had virtually no verified voter fraud in the last 10 years hasn't slowed her crusade at all. She has ravaged the franchise in Aspen, Saguache, Boulder, Teller, and now Pueblo and El Paso counties. The towns of Center, Salida, and others have had to spend from tight budgets to comply with her demands and nit-picking.  Pueblo and Springs voters who now can't have mail ballots are merely her latest victims.

    So I can't read Marks' mind and say that she intends to suppress the vote. But, as I've said before, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, and suppresses 20% of eligible, legal voters, then it is a fucking voter-suppressing duck.

    My speculations: Mail ballots leave paper trails, so are less liable to electronic tampering. Hence, voters must not have mail ballots. Mail ballots make it easy for Democratic students and elderly and disabled and minority and working voters to vote. Ditto.

    If the recall election question 1 succeeds, and a Democratic senator is recalled, this would be a victory on several levels:

    1. Caldara's "Wave of Fear" intimidates legislators.

    2. A small minority of right wing extremists takes a Senate seat that they would never have been elected to.

    3. Long term, Democratic control of state legislators, and national offices, could be more easily curtailed.

    Based on their actions, those are what I think are the motivations of Marks, Gessler, Caldara and the Independence Institute, and those seeking to undo local elections in southern Colorado.

    • BlueCat says:

      On the other hand, if they fail, it will be a severe blow to their whole voice of the people shtick, especially since they have already failed elsewhere in even getting a recall election.  I agree with your assessment of their goals but lots of people have become quite used to voting by mail, including lots of grumpy old Republican seniors. Will they be motivated enough to come out to the polls? Will military who have already received their ballots be highly motivated to vote?   

      This isn't to say I don't think the recall will probably succeed. I'm afraid it will and would even without this effort to suppress votes. I sincerely hope I'm wrong. One more time, anyway.

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