WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Broadcasting last night from Denver, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow featured GOP Secretary of State candidate Wayne Williams' interview on the FOX News Channel–hilariously, devastatingly. This is a must-watch clip of video:
We could not do a better job summing up the absurdity.
The only thing we have to add is this: Wayne Williams leads in most polls in the race to be Colorado's next Secretary of State. For Democrats, that is where the joke stops being funny. With less than a week remaining until the election, how would you capitalize on this nationally televised disaster if you were Williams' opponent? Original post follows.
Last night, FOX News prime-time anchor Megyn Kelly finally addressed her week old on-air false allegations (above) about supposed insecurity in Colorado's election system. Last Tuesday night, Kelly told her millions of viewers that a new Colorado law allowed residents to "print ballots with their home computer," clearly implying that such a provision could be abused to commit vote fraud.
The problem with this allegation, of course, is that it isn't true in the least. Apart from overseas absentee and deployed military voters, who could print an emailed ballot and return it before last year's election modernization law, no Colorado voter can "print ballots."
As you can see in the video below, Kelly was commendably matter-of-fact correcting her false statement about Colorado election law last night. Unfortunately, she then proceeds to interview El Paso County clerk Wayne Williams, now the Republican candidate for Secretary of State in Colorado–and Williams slaughters his own credibility trying to portray mail ballots as vulnerable to fraud.
Williams bases his case against mail ballots in this interview on a truly bizarre presumption, claiming flat-out that some voters are afraid of "someone in their household, a union boss, or an employer," who may try to "intimidate" them. You've got to watch the video to appreciate how truly nutty Williams looked spouting this talk-radio nonsense. Even Megyn Kelly couldn't go along with Williams' far-fetched theory, asking why this "small sliver of the population" under intimidation or whatever would negate the better access to the franchise mail ballots provide to the vast majority voters. Kelly even asked incredulously, "who lives with their boss?" This was an amazingly bad moment for both Megyn Kelly and Wayne Williams: Kelly wasn't getting anything like a useful scandal from Williams' silly scenario of "union boss intimidation," and Williams…well, he just looks like a blathering idiot.
The questions then turn to last year's recall elections, which were the first test of the House Bill 13-1303 election reforms such as same-day registration. Again, the fraud scenario outlined by Williams is incredibly complex: if someone were to go around to different counties registering under false names, addresses, and/or Social Security numbers, there's a possibility that the system could be at least temporarily beaten. Left unsaid, but obvious even in Megyn Kelly's facial expressions is the fact that this is a prohibitively unlikely scenario. It's very difficult to imagine that anyone who would go through the trouble of all of that identity theft would use it for such a low-reward, high-risk exercise as voting.
Of course, this is the same Wayne Williams who told reporters he didn't know anything about the Citizens United campaign finance case even though it's central to the job he's running for as Secretary of State, not to mention taking an illegal campaign donation while running for the job of chief campaign finance law enforcer. So, you know, consider the source, FOX News viewers.
Bottom line: we're glad to see that Megyn Kelly corrected her blatantly false statement. If Wayne Williams was supposed to keep the "vote fraud" outrage machine ginned up, he not only failed, but delivered a huge setback–to his own reputation, and anyone else trying to make Colorado's modernized elections scandalous.
Sadly for you, Guvs, Wayne Williams does in fact point out the primary weakness of mail-in ballots: voter manipulation and vote buying.
Mail-in ballots remove the supervision of in-person private booth voting. It's quite possible to have a "voting party" at a church, or office, or union hall where significant pressure can be applied. Or to have an abusive family member looming over you while you vote. All it takes is the willingness of the actual voter to sign the security envelope and seal the completed ballot inside. From there out it's a pair of stamps and a mail box away from being accepted; and a he-said, she-said complaint is about the only way to detect it.
Like most things election-related, the people who designed our traditional election systems had reasons for what they did. In-person voting was the safeguard against a real (and seen in practice) issue.
Does the convenience outweigh the problem? Probably. But saying that this makes Williams look foolish on its own (without his full-on paranoia over same day registration) is, well, foolish. And denying that it presents a possible problem of a scale enough to affect at least local elections is burying your head in the sand.
The state of Oregon attempts to address vote buying and coersion by allowing voters to request replacement ballots, to be cast either by mail or in person. The voter's last submitted ballot counts as their vote. To my knowledge, though, they don't do anything to ensure that the later ballot isn't, in fact, the one being coerced. A more appropriate system would be to allow the voter to cast one additional ballot in person at early voting or election day voting locations.
Completely agree with mamma and Jeffco. Large percentages of voters have been requesting and using mail in ballots here in Colorado routinely for years. Williams most certainly does look foolish. You can tell that even Megan, who was clearly hoping for something much better to use, thinks so.
Not so common anymore but years ago I ran into women routinely who would refuse to take campaign material because their husbands weren't home and, they told me, he makes all those decisions for them. They clearly planned to vote, in the privacy of the voting booth, for whoever their husbands told them to vote for. Societal change more than the voting mechanism has made that much less common.
There's no way to guarantee that some won't fold to pressure, be it a domineering spouse or bosses who don't come to your house to watch you fill out your ballot or the desire to go along with friends who, once again, aren't going to be popping in to demand to watch you fill out your ballot. There's no evidence mail ballots cause more pressure than the traditional pressure sources.
Respectfully disagree, Phoenix.
While there may be family members who intimidate each other or buy votes, that has been possible for years. We had a "no-excuses" absentee ballot request policy since 2008, I think.
If there's violence or verbal abuse, that's against the law, needs to be reported, and is outside the purview of electoral rulemakers.
Besides, polling place voting is still possible – if someone really wants the privacy of the poll booth with the little curtains, that choice is available – you just can't double vote, that is, if you vote at a polling place, your mail ballot is automatically invalidated.
What's not possible? Physically blocking and suppressing the vote of certain populations by not providing enough polling places, providing faulty machines, requesting voter ID, electronically gimmicking polling machines, intimidating voters with threatening "poll watchers", and the whole gamut of voter suppression strategies.
That, to me, certainly is worth the minor risk of a bullying spouse. As far as a boss or union leader requiring workers to bring in ballots, that is emphatically illegal, and penalized under election law.
I am not saying that the law doesn't cover these cases, but vote manipulation is somewhat hard to detect as an underreported crime. It is a provable theoretical weakness in the system as well as an issue seen in real life in the past.
And I'm not saying that mail in balloting doesn't address other issues – it does, and is probably worth it, as I noted in my original post.
But no-excuses absentee balloting did indeed introduce the potential for mail-in ballot fraud when it was passed. And all mail-in balloting now makes this the default state of things. Sure, you can still vote in person, but everyone gets a mail-in ballot now, and you can coerce that prior to the start of early voting, making it impossible to vote in person in this state.
A theoretical weakness is not the same as an actual weakness. Because there is the potential for bullying and coercion of votes, does not mean that voter coercion and bullying is happening in the real world. At least, there is virtually no empirical evidence that it exists.
Marilyn Marks, Victor Head, Todd Shepherd, and the entire consortium of GOTP fraud alarmists have yet to prove voter impersonation or coercion exists, with anything other than, "It could happen this way."
Wayne Williams' scenario is even further removed from reality – a "union boss" coming to the home, or asking employees to vote to order would leave a paper trail, and is felony under current voting law. If it were happening, we would have heard of it by now.
I suspect that, unlike the GOTP operatives mentioned, who definitely have a partisan agenda, for you it's more of a theoretical or intellectual exercise. So indulge that – in your perfect electoral world, what would elections look like?
I respect you, but seriously? This sounds like the stories wingers tell each other to convince themselves that fraud exists. I don't buy this as a legitimate argument against mail ballots for one second, sorry.
I agree JeffcoBlue and so does conservative judge Richard Posner. He says about the type of "arguments" being advanced by Williams:
"Assertions about voter fraud are "a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters." He adds that "some of the 'evidence' of voter-impersonation fraud is downright goofy, if not paranoid"
He also says about the Voter ID that Williams is advancing:
""There is only one motivation for imposing burdens on voting that are ostensibly designed to discourage voter-impersonation fraud," he writes, "and that is to discourage voting by persons likely to vote against the party responsible for imposing the burdens." More specifically, he observes, photo ID laws are "highly correlated with a state's having a Republican governor and Republican control of the legislature and appear to be aimed at limiting voting by minorities, particularly blacks." In Wisconsin, according to evidence presented at trial, the voter ID law would disenfranchise 300,000 residents, or 9% of registered voters."
Who is Posner? A Hall of Famer justice appointed by Reagan:
"Before walking through Posner's opinion, a few words about why he's important. Posner, 75, is no wooly-headed liberal, but a card-carrying conservative who was appointed to the circuit bench by Ronald Reagan in 1981. He's widely regarded as the smartest jurist in the federal judiciary, and was identified in 2000 by Fred Shapiro of Yale Law School as the most-cited legal scholar of all time. (Shapiro's full list is here.)"
Posner wasn't talking about mail-in balloting, nor was he talking about vote manipulation, which wasn't part of the case before him. He was talking about voter ID fraud – the ability of someone who is not a legitimate voter (either because they are not legally able to vote, or are voting under false credentials) to fill out a ballot and have it counted without being detected.
I highly respect Judge Posner, but let's put his words in context, shall we?
Posner was writing about Voter ID.
Wayne Williams was giving "reasons" why as Colorado Sec of State he would push for Voter ID.
That's the context.
Posner calls Voter ID a scheme to disenfranchise Dem voters.
Mamajama's right, PR. The intimidation – and women who say their husband does not allow them to vote, or their religion does not allow them to vote – has (sadly) been in a number of homes for a very long time. Not related to an all-mail ballot. And why does there always seem to be an underlying assumption that it's lefties who would manipulate the ballot process – if there were a way to analyze this, my guess is you'd find far more righties manipulating, suppressing, etc.
Exactly. Republican religious righties who believe that wives should be subservient to husbands are much more likely to pressure women to vote as daddy says and women in such households are more likely to do so, even in the privacy of the voting booth.
Who's assuming that it's lefties, aside from righties? Certainly not my original post.
Sorry but this creating history out of an imagination. The people who designed our traditional election system originally created a polling place voting system because they were dealing with people who wrote names on a slip of paper and dropped them in a box not to avoid voter intimidation. They didn't have the technology to print standard ballots that would be the only acceptable form for voting. It had nothing to do with people in kitchens, churches, union halls, or corporate offices being intimidated to vote a certain way. In fact, the only kind of voter intimidation that actually has a history behind it is one that INVOLVES polling places – either people being brought to the polls by party bosses to vote the machine (of all political stripes) and people being turned away from the polls by vigilantes or the more genteel poll taxes.
PRIVATE voting booths are in fact designed to prevent this. A union boss could only intimidate a voter by knowing what the voter did in the booth. Once in a private location, this could not happen unless the poll worker was in on the fraud.
I see it's time to post on security measures in voting…
Oh come on. You think union bosses are showing up at people's kitchen tables to watch them vote? Or CEOs are dropping by their employees' homes and demanding they fill out a ballot the way they're told to? Puh-leaze.
We will never live in a world where it is completely impossible for someone to be intimidated, though you'd probably get struck by lightening a dozen times before a union boss showed up at your door and demanded to watch you fill out your ballot, or for one or two people in an entire state to cast a vote fraudulently but these are not anywhere close to significant proven problems.
The real problem is the roadblocks being set up in Republican controlled states to make it as hard as possible for low income, minority and university student voters to vote. If you want to worry about something worry about completely real massive voter suppression, not something you suspect, but have no evidence, might possibly, theoretically happen once in a while.
The GOP is throwing crap at the wall and hoping some of it sticks – "Union bosses" … "intimidating partners or roommates" … this is all part of the new GOP "Rebranding" playbook, ie, scare the crap out of as many people as your possibly can (Ebola!! ISIS!!), surpress voting by requiring a special Voter ID and broadcast as much nonsense as you can on Faux News in order to: a) lay the groundwork for a recount if elections are close, and b) to continue to surpress as many minority and young voters as possible, ie Dem voters – as Ruther Bader Ginsger pointed out in a recent SCOTUS case on Voter ID in Texas. And if GOPers can't handle being slapped down by the Notorius RBG, then they should take it from one of their own, Richard Posner, who from a Fed appeals court said "some of the 'evidence' of voter-fraud is downright goofy, if not paranoid." … In a rational world, the debate over voter ID laws would be ended by the eloquent, incisive and angry opinion issued late last week by U.S. Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner of Chicago in a case concerning Wisconsin."
I suspect Posner is talking about things like Wayne Williams is spouting on Faux News, on behalf of the kooky Koch brothers, whose father was a big part of the John Birch Society, which was banished from the GOP by William Buckley in the 1960s. But Wayne, against all odds and with the help of the Kochs is trying to get the Birchers into power in the GOP. Good luck with that, Wayne.
Wayne should read this article about Posner, might do him some good:
"Before walking through Posner's opinion, a few words about why he's important. Posner, 75, is no wooly-headed liberal, but a card-carrying conservative who was appointed to the circuit bench by Ronald Reagan in 1981. He's widely regarded as the smartest jurist in the federal judiciary, and was identified in 2000 by Fred Shapiro of Yale Law School as the most-cited legal scholar of all time. (Shapiro's full list is here.) … "There is only one motivation for imposing burdens on voting that are ostensibly designed to discourage voter-impersonation fraud," he writes, "and that is to discourage voting by persons likely to vote against the party responsible for imposing the burdens." More specifically, he observes, photo ID laws are "highly correlated with a state's having a Republican governor and Republican control of the legislature and appear to be aimed at limiting voting by minorities, particularly blacks." In Wisconsin, according to evidence presented at trial, the voter ID law would disenfranchise 300,000 residents, or 9% of registered voters."
Rachel Maddow show was all about Colorado tonight. She interviewed Udall, Lynn Bartels, Irv Halter. Gardner and Beauprez refused tobe interviewed. She ran the Wayne Williams preciousness with usual snark.
Video should be up here at about 8:45 pm.
It's 9:10…. and it's not yet out….
I'm looking forward to seeing it…
Me too, it was filmed in Denver/Colorado with Maddow interviewing Udall, Bennet and Irv Halter.
It was a great show.
But, It was on MSLSD so there will be little impact as it has no viewers.
It's just a political update on the old ugly-guys/girls as wingmen/women ploy . . .
. . . if you're a blistering idiot who's just blithered a real boner and you want to look less stupid, well then invite a bigger blithering idiot to be out in public with you — you're gonna' look better by comparison.
Long story short, even a Moderatus assworm diesn't looky quite so asswormy when it's got an Andrew Carnegie assworm nearby.
Where are all these unions with big mean "union bosses"? Did he actually mean to say "abusive spouse" and accidentally say "union boss"? Cuz that's what he's talking about.
It's also funny to hear a candidate for office in the state with the most political commercials and ads say that he doesn't want people's votes to be influenced by others. Are you $%#*ing kidding me?!
In biblical terms, perhaps Williams might want to pull the log out of his eye… It appears Focus on the Family could use a new 'focus'.
Megyn Kelly referred to Senator "Oodall". It isn't a difficult name…
Another pull of TV Barbie's string: . . . "Talking is soooo hard !!!"
Still waiting for my union boss to show up and tell me how to vote