Voter fraud FUD from NRO
The tweet made me do a double-take, followed by a click:
— memeorandum (@memeorandum) October 13, 2014
Living in a state that has had 100% vote by mail for four general elections, I coughed a bit as I read the long-winded objections (FUD = fear, uncertainty and doubt) to Colorado’s new VBM system. Let’s see … [icopyright one button toolbar]
House Bill 1303, makes Colorado the only state in the country to combine two radical changes in election law: 1) abolishing the traditional polling place and having every voter mailed a ballot and 2) establishing same-day registration, which allows someone to appear at a government office and register and vote on the same day without showing photo ID or any other verifiable evidence that establishes identity. If they register online a few days before, no human being ever has to show up to register or vote. A few keystrokes can create a voter and a “valid” ballot. Once a ballot cast under same-day registration is mixed in with others, there is no way to separate it out if the person who voted is later found ineligible. Other jurisdictions that have same-day registration, such as Washington, D.C., treat the vote as a provisional ballot pending verification. Colorado immediately counts the vote.
Voters can choose to mail their ballots back to the county clerks, drop ballots off at early voting centers, or complete them at the polls on Election Day.
But this is what NRO should be protesting: the double expense of running two concurrent voting systems! Who thought this was a good idea?
Like Washington state, Colorado runs a limited number of polling locations. So I was wrong, initially: this system should save counties money and the election day headaches related to running many polling centers. That doesn’t stop some people from grumbling about how they preferred the old days … but preferring an old system doesn’t mean that the new one is less secure.
Second, in order to register online in Colorado, you must have a Colorado driver’s license.
So what that “no human being ever has to show up”? One hopes that signatures are checked against the one on the driver’s license for confirmation of identity. They are in Washington. If not, then shame on Colorado for administrative incompetence. Since Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler (failed candidate for governor) opposed the new law, if he didn’t push for regulatory implementation that allowed for identity confirmation, then he’s incompetent.
Besides, in the 2012 presidential general election, 74 percent of Coloradans voted by mail ballot. Safeguards in place then should work just fine two years later.
Third, same-day voter registration must be done in person, so please, where is the risk of their being found ineligible?
Although NRO implies that no proof of identity is required to register to vote, that’s not how the Colorado voter registration form reads. The Colorado Secretary of State website lists the following as proof of identity for voting, so one assumes it is an equivalent list for registering:
- A valid Colorado driver’s license
- A valid identification card issued by the Department of Revenue
- A valid U.S. passport
- A valid employee identification card with a photograph of the eligible elector issued by any branch, department, agency, or entity of the United States government or of this
state, or by any county, municipality, board, authority, or other political subdivision of this state
- A valid pilot’s license issued by the Federal Aviation Administration or other authorized agency of the United States
- A valid U.S. military identification card with a photograph of the eligible elector
- A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the elector. For
examples, please visit: www.govotecolorado.com.
- A valid Medicare or Medicaid card issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
- A certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate for the elector issued in the United States
- Certified documentation of naturalization
- A valid student identification card with a photograph of the eligible elector issued by an institute of higher education in Colorado
- A valid veteran identification card issued by the United States department of veterans affairs veterans health administration with a photograph of the eligible elector.
- A valid identification card issued by a federally recognized tribal government certifying tribal membership.
- Verification that a person is committed to the department of human services, but is eligible to register and vote.
Moreover, Colorado does have a provisional ballot system.
Fourth, NRO asserts that there are no safeguards regarding first-time registrant ballots. However, the Colorado Secretary of State website says:
All voters who vote at the polls must provide identification. If you are voting by mail for the first time, you may also need to provide a photocopy of your identification when you return your mail ballot.
This implies that there are safeguards in place that NRO is conveniently ignoring, perhaps if a mailed in voter registration form had incomplete voter ID.
But there’s no excuse for inadequate voter ID for in-person registration.
Fifth, NRO claims that “ballots will be mailed to people who don’t vote and no longer live in Colorado, because the law makes it very difficult to remove names from the voting rolls.”
The state voter registration system is run by the Secretary of State’s office and was not changed with the bill. What may have been overridden by the legislature was Gessler’s directive to county clerks that they could not mail a ballot to an “inactive” voter, someone who did not vote in 2012. [Update: that’s exactly what the law did (pdf). Gessler and NRO are still POed that the county clerks won this political battle.]
Sixth, NRO warns against “ballot harvesters.” Question: what was the law regarding ballot collection prior to this bill, when three-fourths of the state’s voters were already voting by mail?
What NRO left out, part 1: the county clerk quoted, Wayne Williams, is running for Secretary of State and is one of only a handful of county clerks who opposed House Bill 1303 last year.
What NRO left out, part 2: NRO claims that there was no “bipartisan input” on House Bill 1303.
However, the bill that established this new system came out of a “bipartisan majority of clerks who run the state’s elections county to county.”
The Colorado County Clerks Association reports that 75 percent of the 64 clerks in the state support the bill. The Association is anything but a left-wing cabal: At least 44 of the clerks, some 70 percent, are Republican officeholders.
Gessler, the primary source for the NRO hit piece, is no stranger to controversy. When first elected, he made headlines by claiming that he had evidence of 11,000 non-citizens who might have voted in Colorado. In the end, however, he had an “unconfirmed shriveled list of 35 non-citizens” who might have voted.
NRO quotes an election integrity group that, so far as the web is concerned, doesn’t exist. Lots of credibility, there.
Finally, NRO waves a report from Wisconsin, which the Election Law Blog nicely rebuts.