Scott Gessler didn't do enough to stop voter fraud, say critics at Arapahoe County event
Others in Arapahoe complained about volunteers on site who were allegedly breaking rules and confusing or intimidating voters.
"I can't believe the number of issues that need to be resolved," said Mitch Page in his public comments. He noted that his wife dragged him to the event, but he was shocked to hear so many people had observed questionable actions.
Sam Levin Scott Gessler talking to Marilyn Marks, an elections integrity activist, in Boulder.
"For voter fraud, what are the consequences?" he asked.
"Nothing!" someone in the crowd shouted back.
Gessler explained that there are a range of consequences, from misdemeanors to felonies, depending on the kind of fraud committed. But he also noted that he was not pleased in 2010 when six people who had voted in Colorado and in other states weren't seriously prosecuted.
Kevin Cullis, another voter in attendance, said he would like to see stricter voter ID laws in Colorado as one way to curb fraud. (These kinds of laws in other states have been met with accusations of organized voter suppression).
"It doesn't matter if you're liberal or conservative, I just want the right thing to happen," he said. "Or we'll become a third-world country."
It is in both parties interests to ensure that everyone voting has a right to do so and isn't able to cheat the system by voting twice, he argued, adding, "I'm less confident in the process, which means I don't trust my politicians. I don't trust my government."
In her comments, Joy Hoffman, chair of the Arapahoe Republican Party, said she observed all kinds of intimidation and potential opportunities for fraud.
"It was very easy to do something that was less than honest," she said, adding, "It was hideous out there."
Some at the hearing asked Gessler to do more to prevent fraud, while others directed their concerns at specific county clerks and recorders or law enforcement officials who they think were uninformed and did little to stop and prosecute those committing fraud.
Sam Levin The crowd in Arapahoe County.
Hoffman told us afterward, "Feeling such a lack of respect for the process was incredibly saddening."
She said it's not always clear what responsibility Gessler has versus the authority of the county clerks' offices to address possible fraudulent actions.
"He's tried very, very hard," she said of Gessler, later adding, "If people vote who shouldn't vote, it devalues your vote as much as my vote."
No matter how big or small the problem is, she said, anti-fraud initiatives need to be proactive.
"The question is, do you root out fraud before it happens, or do you play catchup?" she said.
Gessler didn't say too much during the meeting, mostly just offering brief comments and taking notes. At one point, when urged to do more to remove illegal voters from the rolls, he said, "It's one I've spent some time on," adding that there's "lots of controversy around that."
In short closing remarks, he said, "We're all trying to work in good faith and make this system as good as possible."
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