VIDEO: Gilbert Ortiz portrayed as national voting rights hero on Rachel Maddow show

When it rains, it pours, and when a reporter finds a good story, they don’t let go. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow seems to have found a good story in Colorado. This week, she ran her third segment on Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s efforts to stop county clerks from mailing ballots to inactive voters.

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler
Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler
This week’s report consisted primarily of an interview with Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz.

Maddow introduces the segment by saying that Gessler’s efforts to reduce voter turnout in Colorado is part of a concerted, sustained national attack on voting.

“Sometimes it comes down to one person, one official, doing what he or she thinks is the right thing, and doing it right now,” she said about Ortiz’s decision to mail ballots to American soldiers serving overseas.

She said Ortiz was in the courtroom Friday when a judge ruled that county clerks in Colorado could mail ballots to inactive voters, and that he immediately got on the phone to his office and ordered that the ballots be sent.

Ortiz did not return a call seeking further comment.

Gessler’s rise to national prominence
began when he sued Denver’s clerk and recorder in order to force her not to mail ballots to inactive voters. Gessler said he was trying to ensure fair elections, which he said would not happen if some counties mailed to inactive voters and others didn’t.

Critics of the move, though, saw it as an effort to reduce voting by Democrats and minorities and as such saw it as part of a national effort to reduce the number of such voters prior to the 2012 election.

Pueblo Clerk Ortiz joined the lawsuit as a defendant, and held off on mailing ballots to soldiers and other inactive voters until Friday when a judge ruled the ballots could go out.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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