View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Monday, November 01, 2004

Missing Priorities at the Post 

The Denver Post has made an editorial decision that voter disenfranchisement is more of a problem than potential vote fraud. But their last pre-election article about potential election irregularities is among their worst. It contains not only emphasis on theoretical disenfranchisement and "chilling" at the expense of potential fraud. It, along with the Post's FAQ, contains factual inaccuracies. At this point in the process, with the story having been in the news for so long, neither of these is excusable.

First the FAQ:

Any voter ID with an address must reflect a Colorado address. The address need not match the voter registration address.

Mostly right. But very wrong where it counts: if they're using a utility bill, it does have to match, and I think I'm probably going to enforce this pretty strictly. People are going to read this, and show up thinking that any old utility bill will work. I can imagine dozens, hundreds of people in Denver being turned away over this, and then complaining about it, to news organizations, and poll watchers. The source for this faulty information is Fair Vote Colorado, who shouldn't be cited for anything like that. The Secretary of State and the Denver Election Commission should be sourced.

The Post also lists four organizations voters can report voting problems to. These are presented as non-partisan, impartial organizations. In fact, none of them could fairly be described that way:

  • Common Cause - the people who originally tried to turn our elections into a free-for-all.
  • Fair Vote Colorado - Founded and Funded by the Bighorn Center
  • Election Protection - Affiliated with People for the American Way
  • Coloradoans for Voting Integrity - Founded by Bob McGrath. Note his affiliations.

Susan Greene, meanwhile, reports that:

Meanwhile, counties have faced heavy backlogs processing the swell of new voters. Most had caught up by Friday. But some, such as populous Jefferson County, still hadn't finished adding new names to its lists, even though early voting started 11 days earlier.

In the scramble, many mistakes were made.

One activist, Ben Prochazka - who registered through his own group, the New Voters Project - waited two hours to vote early in Denver before being turned away because the clerk who processed his registration form had spelled his name incorrectly.

Does anyone else find it more than a little suspicious that Mr. Prochazka, an activist who couldn't possibly be any more registration-aware, never bothered to check on the status of his own registration? Isn't it, perhaps, slightly more likely that he was testing the system a little, seeing how election judges would respond?

Ms. Greene was sitting not 10 feet away from me during the Common Cause hearings. One of the witnesses in those hearings had precisely this problem: her name on her ID had been trucated. She refused a name change form on the grounds that her name hadn't changed. Why didn't Mr. Prochazka, if he really wanted to vote, request the same?

In fact, the whole discussion of errrors is more than a little ironic coming from the Post, given that it spent weeks ridiculing the very notion that voter fraud did or could exist in Colorado. The paper relented only when hundreds of fraudulent regustrations were reported by 9News.

The Post discovered nearly 6000 felons on the voting rolls, but half the discussion of that topic is over a completely hypothetical "chilling effect" on criminals eligible to vote.

What's missing from this report, in fact, what's been missing from the Post's coverage all along is any attempt to take the next step seriously. When Common Cause launched their lawsuit, the paper pointed out, multiple times, that the state had no history of vote fraud. When registrations were found, the paper was more concerned with finding the numbers than in looking at the rules and potential holes. When some numbers were given, the paper never called for Attorney General Salazar to recuse himself. And the Post has yet to discuss mechanisms by which fraud could reasonably be perpetrated, aside from registrations in multiple counties.

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