Gessler accuses left of ‘organized’ voter fraud

DENVER– Speaking at a conservative conference here Thursday, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler claimed voter fraud had affected the outcomes of elections, that there is evidence of “organized” voter fraud, that Democrats are intentionally registering noncitizens to vote, and that his critics willfully ignore evidence that these crimes are being committed.

“What I was really struck by after taking office is the level of anger and the level of intensity with which the left opposes efforts to make sure we’ve got clean and accurate voter rolls and honest elections,” he said at the regional Conservative Political Action Conference held near the airport here. “You show them that there is fraud and mistakes and abuse… You show them more and more [evidence] and they say ‘Well it’s not organized,’ as if organization was the harm. So sometimes we’ll actually be able to show organization and they’ll say ‘Well, it hasn’t affected an election. You can’t prove to me that it has affected an election.’ But there’s examples where it has affected elections.”

Gessler was speaking as a member of a panel titled “Stealing Elections: What the Left Doesn’t Want You to Know About Voter Fraud.”

“I see two ways where they really manipulate this,” he continued. “One way is when it comes to illegally registering people to vote, voter registration fraud, they do not suffer the consequences. They’ll go to people who are not citizens. They don’t care that they are not citizens. They’ll register them to vote. And if that noncitizen registers and then votes, they suffer serious consequences, criminal prosecution, loss of the ability to ever become a citizen, but the voter registration drive never suffers any of those consequences. So I think they are very happy to manipulate people into believing it is OK to ignore these laws.”

At the conference, Gessler offered no new evidence that any votes had been fraudulently cast by individuals at polling places in Colorado or around the nation. Nor did he offer evidence to back up his claims that such alleged efforts were being organized or that Democrats were registering noncitizens to vote.

The comments came as the attorney for the 18th District, an area of Colorado that includes Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln Counties, investigates a former employee of  Strategic Allied Consulting, a voter registration firm paid millions this year by the Republican Party and headed by embattled GOP-tied politico Nathan Sproul. The firm is currently being investigated in Florida for allegedly submitting fudged registration forms, where signatures, addresses and party affiliations appeared to be altered or where the forms seemed to be filed under the names of deceased residents of the state.

News of the investigation in Colorado comes from government watchdog group Colorado Ethics Watch. Gessler’s office Friday afternoon cited the D.A.’s investigation to deny (pdf) an open records request submitted by Ethics Watch concerning Strategic Allied Consulting. In an email, Ethics Watch staffer Allison McGee Johnson told the Independent that “although the nature of the investigation was not specified, the district attorney generally investigates criminal matters.”

Messages left with Gessler’s office asking about his comments at the conference and the investigation into Strategic Allied Consulting were not immediately returned.

Although election fraud perpetrated by officials occurs, fraud committed by voters in the United States is statistically “nonexistent,” a fact supported by a series of recent studies, a court case stipulation in Pennsylvania and again in August by a survey of reported cases by News21:

“In an exhaustive public records search, reporters from the investigative reporting project ‘News21′ sent thousands of requests to elections officers in all 50 states, asking for every case of fraudulent activity including registration fraud, absentee ballot fraud, vote buying, false election counts, campaign fraud, casting an ineligible vote, voting twice, voter impersonation fraud and intimidation,” the authors of the survey reported. “Analysis of the resulting comprehensive News21 election fraud database turned up 10 cases of voter impersonation. With 146 million registered voters in the United States during that time, those 10 cases represent one out of about every 15 million prospective voters.”

Gessler, a hard-driving Republican campaign finance and election attorney before taking office in 2011, has been dogged for initiating a 19-month effort that tapped state and federal resources to find what he argued might be thousands of noncitizen Colorado voters but that turned up a yet-to-be-confirmed list of 35 people, eight of whom have been identified recently as citizens, according to the AP. Critics said the effort targeted Democratic voters for intimidation, particularly among the state’s growing Latino population.

At the conference Thursday, Gessler concluded his remarks by turning accusations that have been leveled at him onto his critics. He said members of “the left” were “manipulat[ing] people to get them angry against a make-believe enemy that doesn’t exist.” He said members of the left cried racism to make an imaginary enemy out of conservatives like himself who are concerned with election integrity.

“I think the other thing they are willing to do is manipulate people, to demagogue an issue to sort of rile up anger,” he said. “Anger is a tool and that has happened throughout our history, but to sort of manipulate people to get them angry against a make-believe enemy that doesn’t exist in an effort to win votes, to demonize, frankly, people who are conservative, that believe in limited government– this is the tool they use. And of course ultimately the card they play is the racism card, and they are more than willing to lie to do this.”

Gessler’s remarks on the panel:

What I was really struck by after taking office is the level of anger and the level of intensity with which the left opposes efforts to make sure we’ve got clean and accurate voter rolls and honest elections. And I’ve thought a lot about that, to think about what drives them…

One of the things that is going on is the people that oppose election integrity efforts, they frankly don’t care about vote fraud. They really don’t care about it. They may say they do, but they don’t. And when you argue with them, this is sort of how the public debate goes: The left will argue ‘There is no vote fraud out there. There really isn’t any vote fraud.’ They’ll say there is corruption in our ballot initiatives. They’ll say there is corruption in campaign finance. But when it comes to voting in the booth, our hearts are pure and without malice… That’s their attitude. So you show them that there is fraud and mistakes and abuse there and then they change their argument: ‘Well it’s just a little bit. You haven’t shown me very much. It is just a little bit.’

So you show them more and more and they say ‘Well it’s not organized,’ as if organization was the harm. So sometimes we’ll actually be able to show organization, and they’ll say ‘Well, it hasn’t affected an election. You can’t prove to me that it has affected an election.’ But there’s examples where it has affected elections. And so they’ll argue ‘Well it’s not widespread.’ But of course, for them, widespread is never widespread enough. No, when it comes to vote fraud, it is always minimal… Then they say ‘Well, let’s focus on getting people to vote because that’s really what America’s about.’

And the reason why I become so confident that they just don’t care about [voter fraud], when you look at Colorado, we’ve made efforts to clean our voting rolls. We’ve also made massive efforts to register people to vote. Actually, those efforts have outweighed, from a resource standpoint, the noncitizen and photo ID issues, but the left doesn’t care about that. They only focus on denying that vote fraud exists. It’s unfortunate.

I think the other thing that’s going on is people on the left… are manipulative. They manipulate this issue. I think some people are very sincere when they deny fraud or whatever.

…but I see two ways where they really manipulate this. One way is when it comes to illegally registering people to vote, voter registration fraud, they do not suffer the consequences. They’ll go to people who are not citizens. They don’t care that they are not citizens. They’ll register them to vote. And if that noncitizen registers and then votes, they suffer serious consequences, criminal prosecution, loss of the ability to ever become a citizen, but the voter registration drive never suffers any of those consequences. So I think they are very happy to manipulate people into believing it is OK to ignore these laws.

I think the other thing they are willing to do is manipulate people, to demagogue an issue to sort of rile up anger. Anger is a tool and that has happened throughout our history. But to sort of manipulate people to get them angry against a make-believe enemy that doesn’t exist in an effort to win votes, to demonize, frankly, people who are conservative, that believe in limited government– this is the tool they use. And of course ultimately the card they play is the racism card, and they are more than willing to lie to do this.

Yes, we’ve done some investigation into some voter registration drives and one person was lying, telling a person they were no longer registered to vote, and when that person was confronted they got very angry. They said it doesn’t matter what I say as long as I’m trying to register people to vote, get people mobilized. In other words, it’s OK to demagogue an issue as long as their end is pure. The end justifies the means. We’ve seen that repeatedly. It’s an unfortunate dynamic.

I think the takeaway from all this is the people who oppose election integrity are on the left and they are never going to change their minds. They’ve really sort of dug their heels in. But the broad mass of people in America have common sense and they agree with us. So I think we have to remain steadfast in our efforts to use solid evidence, persuasion and patience and, ultimately, we will prevail in this battle.

An earlier version of the story said Strategic Allied Consulting was under investigation in Colorado. It is a former employee of the firm that is under investigation. With reporting by Scot Kersgaard.

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About the Author

John Tomasic

Writer, editor, web wrangler. He has worked for art, business, culture, politics publications and for a UN war crimes commission.
jtomasic@coloradoindependent.com | 720-432-2128 | @johntomasic

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