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December 17, 2014 11:39 AM UTC

Gessler's Anti-Mail Ballot Talking Points Grow Awfully Thin

  • by: Colorado Pols
Scott Gessler.
Scott Gessler.

Reid Wilson writes at the Washington Post today about the differing experiences of states that have switched to mail ballots. Two states, Washington state and Colorado, both have Republican Secretaries of State. In Washington, Secretary of State Kim Wyman says the switch to mail balloting has been highly successful. After the state allowed mail ballots in the 1990s, it emerged as by far the most popular–and cost effective–option.

But here in Colorado, outgoing Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler is duty bound to disparage mail ballots as he has since the legislation broadening their use passed in 2013–and no positive experience can shake him.

To Gessler, whose state only began conducting elections entirely by mail this year, the system creates the potential for what he calls a “single point of failure” — the U.S. Postal Service.

“The Postal Service is cutting back service for cost-cutting measures,” Gessler said. “You’re seeing some disenfranchisement of voters where the post office is just so slow.”

“I think more people are disenfranchised through all-mail ballots because of the post office than anything else in the country,” he said.

Richard Coolidge, a spokesman for Gessler’s office, said the secretary of state worked overtime to collect mail from the central processing facility in Denver to meet the Election Day deadline. They found 366 ballots that would have otherwise been thrown out for arriving too late.

We have no doubt that some number of voters disregarded the deadline to mail in ballots that was clearly indicated on every ballot as well as other election-related correspondence. Even factoring that inevitable issue, it's just silly to claim that the Postal Service is a "single point of failure" in Colorado elections. For one thing, a large percentage of "mail ballots" aren't mailed back to clerks at all, but dropped off at ballot collection boxes. Counties are apparently not required to track the percentage of ballots returned by postal mail as opposed to being dropped off directly but we've heard in Denver the percentage may be 70% or more deposited in drop boxes. Beyond that, there are other options available, like early voting and vote centers, that make this "single point of failure" business just plain silly.

But the best evidence that Gessler is off base with his ongoing complaints about mail ballots are the results of this year's elections. Neither mail balloting, nor other new election provisions Gessler complains about like same-day voter registration, prevented Republicans from having a pretty good election in Colorado in 2014. There is no evidence that Colorado's updated election laws resulted in anything other than better turnout in a midterm election that nationwide saw the worst turnout since the 1940s. Republicans won the U.S. Senate race, dominated the downticket statewide races except Bob Beauprez's gubernatorial defeat, and made Democrats work for legislative races all over the state. What about this experience speaks badly of Colorado's new election laws, which happen to have been passed by Democrats?

Democrats are bruised from this year's election results, but one thing we can all say for sure today is that Gessler's wild predictions of fraud and chaos as a result of House Bill 13-1303 were totally unfounded. Next year, when new Secretary of State Wayne Williams tries to claim otherwise, hopefully someone reminds him that he won his election in 2014 comfortably too.


19 thoughts on “Gessler’s Anti-Mail Ballot Talking Points Grow Awfully Thin

  1. Gessler can't change his tune now. What would Gessler do without expense paid trips to True the Vote meetings? Those will be easier once he's out of office.

  2. Excuse me, I know that Scott Gessler will never get a fair shake around here, but isn't the fact that he is complaining despite Republican wins evidence of his integrity? Isn't it possible that he truly believes there is a problem?

    Gessler has done a great job as Secretary of State, and this liberal blog has never given him any credit. Stop trying to spin his words for politics, there's no point now. Gessler is leaving office and returning to the private sector. Why would he lie now?

    1. Gessler is a corporate election lawyer from a firm which specializes in election law. Of course, he's going to exaggerate the controversy around HB1303 – it's good for business. 

      This latest schtick with the US Post Office is just a bonus – a way to attack a public employee union (those no good, lazy, USPS employees, bla bla). 

      1. Republicans in Washington have been working for years to privatize the Post Office, to bust Postal Employees pay and unions, and to eliminate one of the few government services actually defined in our Constitution.

        Postal officials and its workers’ unions have called on Congress to pass legislation that will help reduce the burden of funding health care benefits in advance and overhaul the agency’s business model. Bills are pending in the House and Senate, though it is unclear whether Congress will pass legislation before the election.

        We really need Congress to resolve this issue with the prefunding and get that dark cloud away from us,” Mr. Donahoe said.

        Now another Republican complains about their service to keep up his phony war on voters.

        1. Zap – I noticed that you didn't comment on this diary I submitted on the Post Office in June.  Yes, it is a manufactured crisis by the Republicans and something the White House could remedy almost completely without a single member of Congress lifting a finger.  I send the link to the White House Office of Public Engagement about twice a month to remind them they have the power to fix this 🙂

          PS:  Old Time Dem, if you're reading this I think I owe you an apology.  In the comment section I inadvertently offended you and meant to address it long ago.  When I called you 'honey', I was responding, jokingly, to one of your earlier posts where I mentioned that your persistence reminded me of my ex.  It was all in jest.  Happy Holidays.

    2. I have dealt with every Colorado secretary of state since Mary Estill Buchanan and Mr. Gessler ranks without question as the worst secretary of state since at least the 1970's and perhaps in the history of the state.

      The reason his statements still matter is he remains secretary of state until January and he continues to characterize mail-in ballots in a false and, as Coloradopols put it, silly way. The idea the U.S. Postal Service failed or will fail the voters of Colorado is at best ludicrous. All of his previous complaints about mail-in ballots have been debunked by experience and now he invents a new reason why mail-in ballots are untrustworthy without, as usual, any evidence.

      No one, least of all Coloradopols, is spinning anything. Its Mr. Gessler who absolutely refuses in the face of absolute proof to the contrary to admit that he has been just plain wrong about mail-in ballots and about illegal aliens voting in Colorado elections. He has wasted no one knows how much in public funds pursuing phantom issues like illegal aliens voting in Colorado when he knew he had no evidence to back-up his allegations and therefore he consciously mislead the public. Public officials who do that have no business being in office and they need to be challenged every time they try to mislead the public whether they have years left in their term of office or three weeks. .

          1. Actually, it wasn't ballots but initiative petitions place medical marijuana on the '98 ballot.  After Vicky Buckley passed away, her replacement went through her desk and found the petitions wedged in between the draws.

            I have to say that in the past 25 years, the two best SOS were Bernie Buescher and Donnetta Davidson.  As far as the worst, that's a tough call.

  3. + a zillion. He devoted all of his time to partisanship and wasting money on silly failed legal pursuits. Did nothing of value for the state's citizens. We've had good Rs and good Ds in this office in the past and all of them have been primarily concerned with serving all Colorado voters, not just their own party's, except Gessler. He's been a disgrace since day one.

    1. But wait, I'm sure Wayne Williams will try top Gessler's "achievements".  As mendacious as Gessler was, he wasn't stupid or incompetent.

      With Williams, I'm not sure, but we might get the trifecta.

      1. I agree with this. Gessler is a crook but he was smart enough to pick his battles. I'm pretty sure Williams is going to make Gessler look like a great public servant.

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