The new Secretary of State is calling the voter registration process in Colorado an “embarrassment” since voters are not required to provide a photo identification to cast their ballots.
In a Pueblo Chieftain story this weekend, Mike Coffman is quoted saying the system is ripe for fraud and his “top priority” is going to be pushing the legislature to clamp down on toughening the voting process. In the past, Coffman’s former Democratic opponent Ken Gordon accused the Republican of creating a problem where none exists. Truth be told, we didn’t hear many – OK, none, nada, zip – horror stories about undocumented workers waiting in, say, three-hour lines to try to illegally vote on Election Day. But Coffman is not the only Republican who’s agitated about the possibility that people who shouldn’t be voting are showing up at the polls with their utility bill – or a host of other acceptable documents – to prove they are eligible to vote.
In his October newsletter, El Paso County Clerk & Recorder Bob Balink also jumped on the “America is under attack” bandwagon and, courtesy of the taxpayer, demanded to know, “Where’s the Outrage?” over illegally registering to vote, marriage, Christmas trees and even menorahs.
“We are experiencing a serious deterioration of many of the institutions upon which this country was built,” Balink wrote. “Christmas trees are no longer appropriate in celebration of Christmas – we are instructed to refer to them as Holiday trees, and soon, marriage may no longer be defined as a union between a man and woman.
“Shall we propose, then, that the menorah shall henceforth be referred to as “a candelabrum with seven [sic] candles?” Balink continues. “I say ‘No!’ A menorah is a menorah and a “Christmas tree’ is just that. And marriage? Well, we all know what marriage means …”
Balink’s call for a “New American Revolution” to make it harder to vote fell flat, except for among a few people who found it highly offensive that the elected guy who was overseeing the election in El Paso County seemed to be taking a position on marriage, a topic of two ballot questions this year. Still, Balink called it “crazy, crazy, crazy” that judges in Georgia and Arizona, and around the country keep frowning on efforts by a few to make it harder to vote.
And before Coffman moves forward with his stated “top priority,” perhaps he should check in on a multitude of stories that have popped up in recent weeks, detailing the fallout of a state law to deny illegal immigrants government services. One U.S. citizen ended up flying to the United Kingdom to try to get documentation for a Colorado’s drivers’ license after the state refused to accept her passport and drivers’ licenses from Georgia and England as approved identification. Another woman, from California, could not get a Colorado driver’s license because her identification was , gasp, a California driver’s license.
And two weeks ago a lawsuit was filed on behalf of hundreds of people who do not have, and cannot get, identification and thus are being blocked access to housing, state benefits and jobs.
“In this day and age, an ID card can be the difference between life and death for many people,” said John Parvensky, the director of Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, which filed the suit, in an interview with the Denver Post. “We’ll see up to 1,000 people a year who are stuck in place and can’t get the ID to go to work.”
Perhaps before Coffman moves forward with his top-priority “No Official Photo Document = No Vote For You” movement, he ought to provide a very specific plan on how he will personally ensure that every eligible voter – rich and poor- can cast their ballot with ease.
Until then, with due respect, it would appear there are numerous other “embarrassments” that the newly-elected Secretary of State might try to take care of first. Properly certifying and creating minimum security standards for voting machines, certainly come to mind.
Cara DeGette is a longtime editor and columnist at the Colorado Springs Independent.