Scott Gessler touts smooth voting in Colorado, predicts Mitt Romney will take state
This afternoon, we stopped by the office of Secretary of State Scott Gessler to get a status report on the elections, and he tells us they are going well -- and much better than some other swing states. He also dismissed news that he's facing both criminal and ethics investigations for allegedly misusing state funds. He's remaining focused on the elections, which in Colorado, he says, appear to be heading in the direction of a Mitt Romney win.
Gessler, a Republican, and the state's chief election officer, has come under fire for both his efforts to prevent fraud and remove illegal voters from the rolls and, more recently, his alleged use of public dollars for GOP-related travels separate from his official state business.
Gessler, who has also faced some negative press around glitches in registrations, says that today's vote is running very smoothly.
The biggest problems, he says, are long lines at a single voting center in Aurora, which we reported on earlier today.
"You never want long lines. On the other hand, if you look in the context of the broader election, we've had one polling place in the entire state, where it seems as though we've had reported problems with that," he says. "Now, you compare that to what they're experiencing in Ohio or Pennsylvania or Florida or Nevada or problems in Philadelphia...[this is] a pretty damn good election."
With regard to the long lines, he says, "We've had one of our best people on the ground there helping sort things out."
Part of the problem, he says, is that people are showing up with mail ballots and then asking to vote at the polls, which could be leading to the bottleneck. He says he is not sure why this is happening. "Someone asks for a mail ballot, they get their mail ballot, and then they show up at the polling place and they want a provisional ballot instead. So that's not really something you anticipate, and that's in part slowed things down."
Provisional voting is necessary for those who get a mail-in-ballot and then decide they want to actually cast their vote at the polls, so that there's no duplication.
"My hope is, if someone asks for the mail ballot, they'll use the mail ballot," he says.
Another problem: Arapahoe County has 414 different so-called "ballot styles," he says, referring to all the different local races and associated ballots these voting centers must accommodate, given that Arapahoe's centers can be used by voters across the county and aren't specific to precincts. "Working their way through the 414.... That's the bottleneck.
He adds, "The most people are waiting is two hours, and that's not good...but they're able to vote.... CentrePoint is operating with Department of Motor Vehicle-like efficiency."
Still, he says, "Colorado is operating far, far more efficiently than what we've had in other states."
Continue for more from our interview with Scott Gessler.