Jon Caldara, Colorado’s New (And Maybe Only) Election Scofflaw

Jon Caldara.

Jon Caldara.

The Gazette's Megan Schrader reports from Colorado Springs yesterday, where Independence Institute president Jon Caldara committed an act Democrats insist is a felony under Colorado election law:

Caldara lives in Boulder but attested a Colorado Springs address was his permanent residence in a sworn affidavit.

"It is easy to move voters around," Caldara said Saturday morning after casting a ballot he left blank at the Garden of the Gods voting center. "The whole purpose of this was to finally show what I think and I speculate happens often, that people come and use this same-day voter registration to move voters around."

Yet El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams said very few, if any, voters have exercised the rights granted by the new law.

No, folks, it appears that after so much hype about so-called "gypsy voters," the one person to try it is the conservative director of the organization that has staked its credibility on the claim. Election law experts have told us this is not just wrong, but preposterous–the law in question revolves around "intentions," and Caldara's "intentions" were to pull a stunt–to make a bogus point about a bill that was authored by county clerks on both sides of the aisle. And by pulling that stunt, no matter how many contrived "legitimate" circumstances he offers to prove his "residency," Caldara committed vote fraud yesterday. 

El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams says to his knowledge, nobody besides Caldara has even tried this, because the circumstances where one could even plausibly attempt it are in fact quite limited. Williams reaffirmed that it's a felony to lie on the sworn affidavit Caldara signed, and that he will refer such attempts for prosecution. In Pueblo, Clerk Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz reports that only 39 voters have same-day registered out of some 11,000 votes cast, and all of them were required to legally affirm their residence.

“And those 39 have to sign a signature card affirming they are legally entitled to vote in Pueblo County,” he said. “To do otherwise is to commit voter fraud and I will refer any voters I suspect of that to the district attorney’s office.”

As for Caldara's "residence," it's purportedly a "week-to-week lease" of a single room in ex-GOP Rep. Mark Barker's house. Caldara owns a home in Boulder where he lives with his children. The idea that a bedroom in Mark Barker's house is now Caldara's "sole residence" is absurd on its face. There is precisely zero chance that Caldara truly "intends" to make a bedroom in Barker's house his sole residence. Ipso facto, he committed fraud by attesting that he did.

Bottom line: based on the competent legal opinions we're hearing, Caldara went too far this time and broke the law. His actions meet every definition of an attempt to defraud the election system, and vote in a district he does not reside in. Caldara reportedly turned in a blank ballot, perhaps as a firewall against prosecution, but we're told that doesn't matter. He still cast a fraudulent ballot.

The next step is for the El Paso Clerk to refer the case to the local district attorney for prosecution. Given the partisan affiliations of both of those men, we've already heard talk of going over their heads–to the federal Justice Department if needed–should they decide to let Caldara's actions slide.

For our part, we're relieved to hear that despite Caldara's blatant attempt to destabilize this election, spreading the utterly false story that anyone in the state can vote in these two Senate districts, few if any fellow citizens are listening to him.

We really hope that doesn't change between now and Tuesday.

57 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JeffcoBlue says:

    Better hang on to that Justice Department card. With Williams and Dan May as your law enforcement, I wouldn't count on much.

    • gaf says:

      Wiliams has an easy out–if he even chose to do anything–just refer it to DA Dan May. In fact, Williams will point out that that is all he can do legally (although he could chose to apply pressure and publicity). And, yeah, don't count on anything from May–I expect no action from him.

  2. Davie says:

    If suspected felon Jon Caldara is prosecuted, I can guess what his defense will be:

    It was merely a 1st Amendment publicity stunt

    You can't actually prove 'intent'

    The ballot was blank, so it doesn't actually count as a vote or affect the outcome.

    It would be nice if a smart prosecutor disabused Caldara of his fantasies, and got a judge and jury to slap him with a hefty fine and barred him from carrying a gun or voting ever again based on being a convicted felon.


    • JeffcoBlue says:

      You can't prove intent? You can when he sends out a presser before he commits the crime.

    • Gray in Mountains says:

      the law is confusing

    • divad says:

      Doesn't the act of casting a ballot, even if left blank, constitute just that – casting a ballot? 

      /not an attorney, nor do I play one on the interwebs

      • Davie says:

        According to the Denver Post, Caldara's first attempt was rejected by the voting machine because he'd scribbled VOID on the face of it in an attempt to avoid being charged with a crime.

        Since he was pretty much committed to finishing his little stunt by that point, he had no other option but to submit a blank ballot.  That might be the difference between laughing at this vs. wondering if the personal cost was worth it a year from now.

        Depending on who is paying for his "week to week" rent, even John Andrew's benighted Independence Institute could get penalized (RICO Act, anyone)?

      • Theoretically, if you are recorded as taking a ballot and that ballot is recorded as having been cast, then there should be no way to actually determine what was on that ballot. At least that is the way voting security was designed back in the days when people thought it all out…

        So yes, it's casting a ballot – and no-one should be able to prove what was (or was not) on it.

    • Hawkeye-X says:

      No. No. I don't want him off easy. He needs to spend 25 to life in prison for voter fraud.


      I consider voting fraud the same category as murder, rape and kidnapping.


      He ought to lose all of his assets, seized to the Colorado Department of Treasury and repatraiated for the recall efforts. Independence Institute should be shut down as a result of Caldera's action in the name of the right-wing fucknut think tank.



      • ElliotFladen says:

        So somebody should lose all their assets because they disagreed with your policy prescriptions (note that you objected to not only Caldera voting, but also to the very act of helping out with the recall)? 

        Let's hope you never get anywhere near a lever of power.  

        • Curmudgeon says:

          Apparently you're unfamiliar with the concept of hyperbole, Elliott.  Hawkeye was simply venting a bit over the fact that a scumbag like Caldera (who you're of course defending, wow.. who'd have thunk it?) can consistently screw with our electoral process (which, of course, as usual, you're A-OK with), and at this point, honest people are just hoping he'll suffer some kind of consequences for pissing in the face of the law (craven attempts to cover his ass notwithstanding). 

        • Duke Cox says:

          People lose their assets all the time because they are felons, Elliot. You should certainly know that. The people of Colorado should receive restitution for having to endure this insufferable putz.

          Take his money and throw a party with it…everyones' invited.

          • Duke Cox says:

            everyone's…that is

            • ElliotFladen says:

              Be specific: restittution for what?  For his voting in EPCO or for his support of the recall?  If you say the latter, you have no business being anywhere near a lever of power.

              • Curmudgeon says:

                That's hilarious. Elliott, telling someone to "Be Specific". Elliott, who repeatedly says things like "Field's comments come from somewhere else (that he never elaborated on)"…

                Spineless, egg-sucking, hypocritical GOP lapdog.

                • ElliotFladen says:

                  If you believe that you should be allowed to seize a person's property because they support political votes you disagree with you have no business being anywhere near a lever of power.  Period.

                  This isn't Pol Pot Cambodia.  This isn't 1919 USSR. And it isn't the Roman Republic after the Social War.  This is the USA.  

                • ElliotFladen says:

                  He ought to lose all of his assets, seized to the Colorado Department of Treasury and repatraiated for the recall efforts


                  Absolutely despciable statement.  Not because of the policy disagreement but because it suggests people should have their property seized for poltiical disagreements.  Shameful. 

                  • ClubTwitty says:

                    No.  That is not the argument being made, that I can see, as odious as Mr. Caldera’s positions and statements are, and they are indeed, with predictable regularity.  But are you really that dense and find common language so obtuse—that you cannot distinguish between holding odious positions and acting upon them in a way that violates law?  And your profession is what?

                    Or, rather, are you just here to spin your usual yarns and weavings regardless of the fundamental absurdity of your line of reasoning, again?

                    • Hawkeye-X says:

                      Gee. Leave for the night, and I have a moron who doesn't understand the concept of a life of a felon.


                      Curmedegon/Club Twitty: you're doing a good job of beating down that Caldera fanboi with a cluebat.  

                      I've got long memories – Caldera has pulled some of the strangest stunts for years and it gets unnoticed by the proper authorities. I happen to think that Caldera has gone too far and just crossed the red line into felonious criminal activities. 

                      I can see that the D.A. has been notified, and I hope he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

                       The recall expenses should be borne by the NRA, the recall organizers, their (soon to be failed) successors, the RNC, and all the local right-wing thinktanks that got involved in it, which includes the Independence Institute, and have them in debt, constantly harrassed by the collectors. That's a fair punishment.



                    • ElliotFladen says:

                      Hawkeye, your comment went beyond the voting issue.  Your desire to seize Caldera's assets were for the mere fact that he DISAGREED WITH YOU on the recall (not for just the voitng issue). 

                      Your comment is shameful and you should be embarassed by it. 

                  • Curmudgeon says:

                    Untwist your panties, Counselor.  No one really expects your boy Caldara to lose his assets because he commited a felony.  It's hyperbole. Just like I don't think you're actually a spineless, egg-sucking GOP lapdog…it's not intended to be a factual statement.   

                    After all, even egg-sucking lapdogs can have a modicum of dignity, and there are some things that they just won't do.

                    • ElliotFladen says:

                      I see no reason to believe that the comment was hyperbole without an explicit statement as such from the one who propounded it. 

    • notaskinnycook says:

      Sorry, Davie. You're partally incorrect. It's true that he won't be able to hold public office as a convicted felon. but even if he actually goes to prison, once he's off parole his voting rights will be restored. 

  3. Davie says:

    Forgot to add — since this 'stunt' couldn't have been carried out without the premeditated help from fellow Republican Mark Barker, now you're talking conspiracy to commit felony perjury and vote fraud.  That probably acts as a multiplier in the potential penalties available to the prosecution.

  4. exlurker19 says:

    Scottie, Scottie, where are you?  Here's your voter fraud that you've been searching for!!! Scottie, come back, Scottie!!!

    * * *


  5. DavidThi808 says:

    There's always people out on the fringe that do crazy shit like this. But now we have the head of the main GOP think tank pulling this stunt. They've really redefined acceptable for the so-called grown-ups in the GOP.

    And they think being a dick will attract voters in the center?

  6. Progressicat says:

    I don't think that you're going to have much luck on the federal level.  The fed is focused on organized voter fraud (which I doubt Caldara's "hey come vote" nonsense rises to) rather than individuals and federal elections rather than local/state.  It would more likely need to be the state or another county (Boulder, maybe, because of his actual residence) who goes after him for his idiocy.

    Having said that, what a schmuck.

  7. Andyjunction says:

    Republican Activist Proves Existence of Voting Fraud by Commiting Voter Fraud

  8. dwyer says:

    Two points:

    1) Isn't this a form of civil disobedience where one breaks the law in order to get into court and find the law unconstitutional?  

    2) On the other hand, everyone is talking about John Caldara and some are even spelling his name right.  

  9. Old Time Dem says:

    Caldara appears to believe that because the statute refers to his intentions, his inner monologue regarding such intentions is all that counts.  He's wrong;  the intention to establish a residence is shown by the objective facts.  In this case, the facts clearly show that he does not have any intention to abandon his Boulder residence.

  10. Hawkeye-X says:

    Jon Caldera needs to be facing a very long prison time, preferably in solitary in the worst prison in Colorado.


    No benefits, just water and gruel for him. He can lose that fat ass.

  11. Smoking Mirror says:

    Prosecute his ass, and send him to jail.  Actions have consequences.

  12. PeoplePower says:

    I thought anyone could challenge the eligibility of a voter.  That's one of the things Poll Watchers do.  It doesn't need to be the County Clerk.  If Caldera has his Boulder address listed on his driver's license and has a car registered in Boulder, that is evidence that his room in El Paso is not his sole residence.  I'm sure there will be many people lining up to challenge his eligibility.

  13. Duke Cox says:

    Fladen has developed a new strategy, I see.

    Just keep repeating the same mendacious bullshit until the site no longer accepts replies…then he always gets the last word.

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