John Hickenlooper: Scott Gessler may be intimidating Colorado voters


Governor John Hickenlooper, Obama field office.JPG
Sam Levin
Gov. John Hickenlooper.
"I want everybody to vote -- Republicans and Democrats. We are the original experiment in democracy.... I want to start a movement called, 'I gotta vote!' I want everybody to really realize that they have to vote...to drive them to action," he said. "But I don't think Scott Gessler has hurt or suppressed [voters]."

But has he made it harder for people to vote as some of his opponents have repeatedly suggested?

"I think he has for certain people -- without question.... It's easy for us to say everyone should vote," Hickenlooper said, adding that he has a friend who is 42 years old, and who has never voted. "I'm not proud of this.... He just never got around to it, was busy. And so these people who never voted before, just a little bit of confusion, they're easily intimidated. We want to make it easy for people to vote, not harder."

Gessler has faced criticism for sending letters to thousands of registered voters asking them to prove they are citizens. He has defended this effort by saying that he wants to make it easy for people to vote and tough for them to cheat. He's also pointed to the major state-wide registration initiative his office recently launched -- an effort that also faced a fair amount of backlash.

"He has kind of muddied the water," Hickenlooper continued. "If people are diffident and cautious -- now, they shouldn't be. And he would say, 'These people should be dying to vote,' and I agree, but they aren't.... It's like going swimming, going in the pool. You wanna put your toe in it. If they've never experienced voting and democracy -- those of us, we take it for granted. Some people, they are intimidated -- immigrants who just registered. They've got their citizen papers. They've never done this before."

Does he think that Gessler has partisan motivations in these efforts?

"I wouldn't go that far," Hickenlooper said. "I think that Secretary Gessler really thinks in his mind that he's doing the right thing, that he's trying to make sure that the only people that vote are citizens. But I do think that there's a risk.... He and I agree on this. I think only people that have the right to vote should be voting.... But if that process, if you end up scaring more people away than rooting out [illegal voters]. And we haven't found very many people, hardly anyone, who actually has voted when they shouldn't have. So it might be much ado about nothing."

More from our Politics archive: "Strategic Allied Consulting: Voter-registration firm ex-employee being investigated in Colorado"

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at Sam.Levin@Westword.com.


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2 comments
jraiffie
jraiffie

@SamTLevin sounds like Hick is as worried as Obama campaign about not getting good those "ACORN" votes or whatever they call themselves now

jraiffie
jraiffie

@SamTLevin @SamTLevin how is ensuring voting integrity intimidating? WTH? As intimidating as requiring actual ID

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