The mystery “duplicate ballot” was photographed, tweeted about and then shredded. In its internet afterlife, it was held up as evidence that recent electoral reforms centered around universal mail ballots were opening the state to fraud. In fact, the mystery ballot demonstrated that the system is working as well as it ever has done, and maybe better.
It took a few days and some digging, but now it’s clear that the ballot was a Delta County special election ballot. It was mailed to Republican state House candidate Jon Keyser, an attorney at major Colorado law firm Hogan Lovells and a former Air Force intelligence officer.
Keyser lives in Morrison, in Jefferson County, but he owns a Delta County parcel of land. He is eligible to vote in two elections. Keyser received two ballots in the mail because that’s how it works. They’re different ballots. He is being asked to vote in Jefferson County as a resident and on a long-term financing deal for Delta County’s Grand Mesa Water Conservancy District.
“We sent a property owners ballot to a Jonathan M. Keyser in Morrison for the one question,” confirmed Ann Eddins, Delta County clerk. She also confirmed that Keyser would have gotten a letter in advance informing him that a special elections ballot would be arriving in his mailbox in addition to his regular Jefferson County ballot. The back of the envelope also included a notice that he might receive two ballots in the mail this year.
Eddins also confirmed that her ballot envelopes include stick-on labels, not the fancier spray-over variety delivered by Jefferson County, and that the return address portion of the envelopes were different. Mainly, Delta County’s are orange; Jefferson County’s are blue. Eddins sent the image of the Delta County ballot envelopes included here below. (Click on the images to enlarge them.)
All of that is pretty much exactly what Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson suspected when she saw the tweet Keyser sent out with a photo (above) of the two ballots he received, suggesting the system was broken.[blockquote]@Jon_Keyser: So I received two mail in ballots. Did that happen to anyone else? C’Mon Man! #copolitics #coleg #FailedSystem pic.twitter.com/9RmPN4z0Ai[/blockquote]
Anderson said the color and indicia printing on the envelope were clear indications to her that the bottom envelope in the photo, the top return-address portion of which was obscured, was not a Jefferson County envelope. She called Keyser and explained that he likely got multiple ballots not duplicate ballots.
In fact, Keyser’s tweet and the photo were taken up with gusto by the kind of right-wing outlets in the state always on the lookout for evidence of the kind of ballot-related security “violations” they have assured readers have multiplied since Democrats passed the HB 1303 reform legislation last spring.
The bill was embraced by the vast majority of county clerks in the state, mostly Republicans, who welcomed the attempt to modernize the state’s voting system and increase voter participation. Republicans in the legislature took their cue from controversial Secretary of State Scott Gessler, now a Republican candidate for governor. They opposed the bill unanimously, suggesting it was a Democratic attempt to notch greater election wins — they meant by expanding the franchise but they talked about how Democrats were opening up the election system to fraud.
Keyser seems a little taken aback by the flap his tweet generated. He said he still believes that receiving two ballots, even if not duplicates, is evidence not perhaps of failure but of inefficiency.
“This clearly illuminates a bureaucratic inefficiency that can and should be improved,” he wrote to the Independent. “The county clerks and recorders have a difficult job. Hopefully we can come together and find a way to help streamline this process and save Colorado taxpayers some money at the same time.”