Rigged voting in CO? No way, says Secretary of State’s office

Donald Trump’s claims that Democrats will rig the 2016 election have struck a nerve in Colorado.

That nerve belongs to Secretary of State spokesperson Lynn Bartels.

Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has for months complained about vote-rigging in several states where he has done poorly, including Colorado, where he failed to pick up a single delegate in the state Republican convention in April.

Bartels told The Colorado Independent that six of the state’s* most populous counties are all under Republican clerks and recorders, and that the idea that they are in it to help either candidate win is “insane.” She added, “Clerks don’t pray for winners and losers but large margins of victories so there are no recounts!”

In a statement to media outlets, Bartels responded to inquiries about vote-rigging claims by saying, “Donald Trump has been tweeting about elections being rigged, but he offers no evidence of such. I can say on Twitter I’m a supermodel but that doesn’t make it so.”

She explained that in 2014, 5 percent of Colorado votes were cast at Voting Service Centers, the majority of which are located at county government offices. The rest came from mail ballots, and county clerks have what she described as “extensive extensive checks and balances in place in scanning the mail ballots.”

But the strongest evidence of all, she added, might be seen in the results of the 2014 Republican primary for governor. Included among the candidates was then-Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

Gessler came in third in that primary, Bartels pointed out. “If you really can rig the system, how come he didn’t win?”

Gessler made voter fraud a signature issue during his four years as secretary of state, and used it to argue (unsuccessfully) for legislation requiring voters to bring photo identification to the voting booth. The peak came after the 2012 election, when he claimed there were more than 150 cases of voter fraud in Colorado.

Those allegations were found to be largely baseless, and resulted in just one conviction. A second case went unprosecuted when the defendant fled the state.

Related: Two Down, two to go in SOS Scott Gessler’s voter fraud manhunt

Bartels’ boss, Secretary of State Wayne Williams, is equally adamant about the reliability of Colorado’s election system and the safeguards in place to protect against shenanigans on (or before) Election Day.

“While there are occasional instances of voter fraud, Colorado’s processes are very good at catching attempts to commit voter fraud,” Williams said. “We are working to improve our processes and prosecute those who break the law.”

This year, prosecutors are looking into several cases of alleged signature fraud committed by hired petition signature gatherers, as well as instances of “dead voters” casting ballots.

In 2014, a review of voter fraud allegations between 2000 and 2014 found just 31 credible allegations out of more than one billion ballots cast.


Photo credit: justingrimes, via Creative Commons license, Flickr

*Clarification: not including Denver.


has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.


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