Pennies for Your Thoughts: El Paso County Ballots Scrap Signature Cover

Republican Wayne Williams is the current Clerk and Recorder in El Paso County, which puts him in charge of elections and voting in one of the largest counties in Colorado. Williams is also running for Secretary of State to replace Scott Gessler, and if his decisions in El Paso County are any indication, Williams' approach to mail ballots should make you nervous.

All mail ballots must be signed on the back of the envelope in order to be counted as official votes, and El Paso County is no exception to that rule. But El Paso County is perhaps the only large county in Colorado to have eliminated the voter signature cover on the envelope, which allows anyone who handles the envelope to see whose ballot is in their hands (provided they can read the signature). You can see the El Paso County ballot and envelope in the image below; after the jump is a comparison ballot/envelope from Denver, with the signature cover intact.

From what we understand, Williams instructed his office to eliminate the tab that covers the signature on the envelope as a cost-cutting measure. We can't imagine this decision actually saved a lot of money, but even if it did, was it really worth the savings if it jeopardized the secrecy of mail ballots in El Paso County?

El Paso County Ballot

El Paso County mail ballot sans signature cover.








Ballot from Denver, with signature cover in place.













29 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Big Time says:

    I'm sure if it was a Dem who did it in Denver, Faux News would have had a news helicopter over the city for the past three weeks focused on ballot drop off locations, to their homes were Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo would parachute in and make citizens arrests … or something. 

  2. Moderatus says:

    So what? Democrats are sending people to fish ballots out of the trash in "ghetto Aurora." I'd say that's a worse risk to your identity.

    • Big Time says:

      The worst risk to your character and integrity (and some would say, soul) is quoting James O'Keefe. 

    • gasan says:

      That whole thing has been thoroughly discredited. But gosh, you just. want. to. believe. Don't you? 

    • DawnPatrol says:

      Sick little maggot.

    • mamajama55 says:

      Todd Shepherd operator of Complete Colorado website and Victor Head, backflow preventer and candidate for Pueblo County Clerk, both Republican conservatives, pioneered the "fish ballots out of the trash for political gain" game.

      I have yet to see the undoctored video of any Democrat political operative advocating for felony impersonation voter fraud, which is what it would be if they dug a ballot out of the trash, voted it, forged a signature, and turned it in.

      I'll believe that happened when I see it. We know James O'Keefe likes to frame people for quotes which they didn't actually say.

      But for Shepherd and Head, they went on the record advocating that impersonation voter fraud is possible. They have the method all scoped out.


    • BlueCat says:

      And if that's true modster, what would they do with them?  If there's not a signature under the flap that matches the signature the clerk has on file, the ballot won't be counted. That's one of the reasons why you righties can't find any evidence of the an even slightly significant level of mail in voter fraud or in person voter fraud. Our safeguards work so well it takes decades to accumulate a handful of examples out of millions. What's easy as pie to find evidence of is voter suppression tactics and dirty tricks to keep people from voting, such as sending them fraudulent info about where and when to vote. 

  3. ajb says:

    It's a pretty neat trick:
    Williams (R) degrades the secrecy of  mail ballots. 
    Gessler (R) approves.
    It's El Paso County (R) so nobody complains.
    If Williams wins, Rs use this to campaign against mail ballots.

    Kinda like Rs being inept at governing, then complaining that government is inept.

  4. vertigo700 says:

    Also, 12 ballot locations in the state's most populous county (one that is also 2,100 square miles)!

    Denver has 23 24-hour drop off locations and 25 voting service centers. Arapahoe County has 37 drop-off locations. 12 seems kinda weak, no?

  5. emarquez says:

    Where is Marilyn Marks when you need her? She should be suing the s**t out of El Paso County.

    But probably won't. You know, when Pubes do it . . .

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      That's a trick question, right?


    • mamajama55 says:

      Marks is in on this. (My guess). In Pueblo, she insisted that ballots are identifiable, can be traced back to voters. She offered this as evidence that election employees are handling "Republican" or "opposition" ballots differently.  Of course, that used to be impossible, because of the covering signature tab.

      Now, it is at least possible, in El Paso County, to trace ballots back to voters. If there is an unexpected Democratic victory or Republican loss in EPCO, a lawsuit alleging that mishandling of ballots led to election fraud, is a possibility.  Marilyn Marks loves to sue clerks about election issues.

      The facts that this a) makes Wayne Williams look incompetent as an election official and b) actually violates voter privacy, are collateral damage on the road to the long term goal of de-legitimizing Colorado's modern election law.

  6. JeffcoCO says:

    I'm not sure that this is as much about secrecy as I guess it could be about spoiling the ballot. At least in Jefferson County (and from what I can see on these pictures from El Paso County), the voters name and address is clearly visible as an address on the back of the envelope. So, my envelope is clearly identified as my envelope by looking at the back of the envelope. The value of the signature cover is that it prevents anyone from spoiling the ballot by altering the signature before it is pulled back at the clerk's office and verified. I suppose it also provides some identity theft security by not having signatures floating around on the outside of an envelope. 

    • JeffcoCO says:

      All this makes me think that, if any of these elections are extremely close, some kind of vote counting watchdog should keep an eye on the number of spoiled ballots in El Paso County, particularly if they are disproportionately from D heavy zip codes or precincts.

  7. jbmonco says:

    I did not know this was Wayne's doing. I hate having my signature visible outside the ballot. 

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