Scott Gessler didn't do enough to stop voter fraud, say critics at Arapahoe County event
Pre-election news coverage about Secretary of State Scott Gessler often focused on his efforts to weed out non-citizen voters and prevent fraud through an initiative some activists called a wild goose chase. But at an event in Arapahoe County, where Gessler invited public feedback, most took the opposite stance: Election officials haven't done enough to prevent fraud, which, the voters said, was out of control on November 6.
Big photos below.
These public comments were made at a stop in Centennial -- part of Gessler's "election integrity listening tour," in which the Secretary of State and his staff are holding open hearings throughout the state at which anyone from the public can offer their thoughts directly to the state's chief election officer.
Yesterday morning, Gessler stopped in Boulder, where a lot of the discussion involved ongoing confusion surrounding the uncertified results there, before spending the afternoon at the South Metro Chamber of Commerce in Arapahoe County at an event attended by about thirty people.
Sam Levin A commenter in Arapahoe County addresses Scott Gessler.
At that second gathering, several individuals criticized Gessler for making it harder for people to vote, with one individual lamenting a controversial rule by which permanent mail-in voters become "inactive" and don't get sent ballots if they miss an election.
But a large majority of the public commenters expressed concerns relating to fraud, complaining about fishy activities they said they saw on election day, as well as the perceived lack of punishment and consequences for those who commit voter fraud.
The tone at the event made it clear that while Gessler has faced a lot of pressure to back off his efforts to eliminate non-citizen voters -- a project that critics say intimidates legal voters -- there's also a constituency that would like to see him and other election officials do a whole lot more to stop fraud, and identify and punish those who commit it.
The debate around immigrants illegally voting -- with Gessler saying he is trying to clean up the voter rolls and his opponents arguing that the potential for non-citizen votes is extremely limited -- was only one topic mentioned at the hearing.
"If you're not American, you shouldn't vote," said Aurora's Steven Haworth during the public comment period. "I think you need to purge those voters."
Haworth said he was a precinct leader and made calls in support of Mitt Romney -- and he encountered registered voters who he said told him they were not citizens.
In regard to voters who have become "inactive" because they didn't vote last election, he added, "If you're not willing enough to make sure your election status is active...then you should be purged."
Gessler also heard a lot of questions about mail-in ballots potentially being intercepted, with some worrying about individuals they observed dropping off piles of mail ballots in bulk -- a red flag for fraud, they say. Several also raised questions about busloads of people going to polling sites, suggesting that tactics could be helping people to vote twice or clog up lines at vote centers to stop legitimate voters.
Sam Levin Scott Gessler at the Boulder hearing yesterday morning.
Continue for more comments from the Scott Gessler event.