Caplis and Silverman Show, Scott Gessler, 4/09/2012
Station: 630 AM, KHOW
Show: Caplis and Silverman
Topics: Inactive Voter Bill, Voter Photo ID laws, Secretary of State Scott Gessler, Voter Fraud, Recall, Voter Photo ID Bill
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SILVERMAN: Oh, what a world, what a day, what a life! Scott Gessler’s had quite a life. He was a hot shot attorney before he decided to run for public office. Wouldn’t you know it? He won statewide office. He’s now Secretary of State. He’s in the eye of almost every storm. Scott Gessler, welcome back Talk Radio 630 KHOW!
GESSLER: Thanks for having me.
SILVERMAN: How does it feel to be in the eye of the storm all the time?
GESSLER: You know, after a while you just sort of get used to it.
SILVERMAN: I hear it’s really calm in the eye of the storm
GESSLER: [chuckles] Just a Zen-like state.
SILVERMAN: Is it easier than being a lawyer?
GESSLER: You know, actually it’s about… you know, there are different stresses, but being a lawyer can be pretty darn stressful as well when you’re litigating.
SILVERMAN: I know. People call you with problems.
GESSLER: Yeah. So, I mean, you just sort of get used to it after a while.
SILVERMAN: Absolutely. Let’s talk about the front page news in The DenverPost. There’s a debate going on about whether or not Clerks and Recorders should be sending out ballots to inactive voters. Set up the debate, Scott Gessler and tell everyone where you are and where your opponents are.
GESSLER: Sure. You know, in Colorado in order to automatically get a mailed ballot for a general election, you have to be one of two things. You either have to be a regular voter, or you have to ask for the ballot. So, if you’re an inactive voter you have to ask for a ballot or show up and vote on election day, one of those two things. And we’ve had that protection in place for past about 17 years or so in Colorado, so that we’re not sending out ballots to people who don’t vote or are no longer there, so that we’re not flooding the state with ballots that could be problematic. And that also gets really expensive, as well. So, I think what’s going on is that there’s an effort right now, and I’ll be diplomatic, but there’s an effort to change this right before the upcoming election, here. And I think it’s really a wrong-headed approach here in Colorado’s elections.
SILVERMAN: And part of the reason you don’t like it is because there are a lot more Democrats who are inactive voters than Republicans. If it was 40% Republicans and 20% Democrats, do you think you’d take a different stand?
GESSLER: You know, Not at all. In fact, I’ll tell you something, I’ve been against this change for a couple months now, and it was only last week, and this is the God’s truth – it was only last week that I learned what the partisan breakdowns were, when the Denver Post asked us for that information. That was the first time we ran that information. So, prior to that, I hadn’t been looking at the Democrat or Republican or Independent splits at all. I was just looking at, you know, what’s good policy and what protections do we have in place to, basically, to prevent the potential from people cheating here in Colorado
SILVERMAN: Is there a potential for cheating if ballots are mailed out to inactive voters? Aren’t they supposed to be verified anyway? Do you think that somebody’s collecting these, filling them out and what are the protections against that?
GESSLER: You know, we’ve seen a lot of red flags in the past. So for example, when … you know, for an odd-year election, for a short time Colorado’s law said that Clerks and Recorders had to send them to these folks. And when the ballots were coming back there was a really high number of signatures that didn’t match, and other problems with those ballots. So that’s a real red flag when you look at that overall process. And at the same time there were more ballots that were returned as undeliverable, than there were people trying to vote. So that shows you that a lot of people have moved, a lot of people don’t return the ballots. Only a very small percentage actually vote. And among the people who return ballots, we see a lot of problems with those as well. So that gets really problematic. And that’s why we have these protections in place
SILVERMAN: Our special guest: Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler. He will take your calls. 303-713-8255. 713-TALK. If you want to talk to Colorado Secretary of State … A lot of people are talking about Scott Gessler, some Democrats really don’t like him. Another big fight that has been going whether or not you need to show identification when you vote – picture identification. James O’Keefe, working with the Breitbart organization – have you heard about this Scott?
GESSLER: I have.
SILVERMAN: Let me play for everyone what happened. James O’Keefe is the guy who helped take down ACORN pretending to be a pimp. He likes to dress the part. Here, I think he put on black hair and a beard and he went to vote in Washington DC under the name of Eric Holder– Eric Holder, who has been saying this about the need for protections when it comes to photo ID when you vote:
[ERIC HOLDER audio clip: “But there is no proof that our elections are marred by in-person voter fraud.”]
So there’s Erick Holder saying as people have said to Scott Gessler, ‘Hey you got to show us a problem before we do anything about it.’ But James O’Keefe set out to make that point. Here it is:
[Audio clip from James O’Keefe video being played on air with Craig Silverman providing audio descriptions of the visual depiction. Various sections bleeped as addresses are mentioned in the clip. At the end of the clip, James O’Keefe is heard saying, “I actually forgot my ID, I left it in the car.” The poll worker responds, “You don’t need it here. As long as you’re on our list and that’s who you say you are, you’re okay.” James O’Keefe: “I would feel more comfortable if I just had my id, is it all right if I go get it and come back. I’ll be back faster than you can say furious."]
SILVERMAN: Little inside joke there—the Fast and the Furious part. But…and it’s good that he didn’t take the ballot because at a certain point he might have been accused of a crime. What did you think of that, Secretary of State Gessler – what James O’Keefe did in a public polling place – I assume for the recently held presidential primary in Washington D.C.?
GESSLER: I think what it does is it shows a real vulnerability in our systems. You know, I sometimes admit this… I’m originally from Chicago, and, you know, which has a long history of vote fraud. And so you see instances like that and there’s always that possibility here. And the other thing, when people cheat in an election, it’s very very difficult to detect that. And I think what it shows is how easy and how vulnerable sometimes our systems can really be. So, […] it loses a little bit in coming over the radio instead of on the video, but it really sort of makes the point that it’s sometimes really easy to cheat in our elections.
SILVERMAN: Right, and what do think would have happened if Eric Holder would have showed up later at that voting place and somebody had actually voted. What would they do– a provisional ballot or something?
GESSLER: You know, what they probably would do is give him a provisional ballot. But if someone had already voted in his name, in other words if the vote had already been cast, they probably wouldn’t count the provisional ballot. […] it depends on the jurisdiction, but it’s sort of ironic, there was this big study a few years back, you know, Jimmy Carter and James Baker, so it was this bipartisan commission. And one of the people on the… I think it was one of the commissioners actually, relayed a story about how he and his daughter actually, went to vote on election day and somebody had already voted in their name. And so they weren’t allowed to cast a ballot.
SILVERMAN: This video is all over the internet, as well as somebody registered as TimTebow and TomBrady up in Minnesota and were able to make a vote. I think we need to protect voting, and Scott Gessler thinks so too, but at a certain point does it become too restrictive? Does it start limiting the ability of certain people to vote? Is it like a poll tax, or a literacy exam—the kinds of things that kept people away…. Or is this just common sense to avoid fraud? You know we joked about what happened in Chicago during JFK’s time or maybe Texas in LBJ’s time, but is it a joking matter to have voter fraud. I don’t think it is. Scott Gessler doesn’t think it is … if you want to take him on, if you want to make a good argument, why we don’t need photo ID to vote, we’d love to hear it. […]
[… Commecial break…]
SILVERMAN: Welcome back […] Secretary of State Scott Gessler, we’re talking about the requirement or lack thereof that you show photo ID when you vote. To me, I understand the pros and the cons, but I come down on the side of, “It’s not that hard to get a photo ID” and seems to me that ultimately, the people who favor,… or who disfavor this kind of rule are just accepting a certain amount of fraud. Scott Gessler, can you see the pros and the cons yourself? I mean, it’s not black and white. Some people might legitimately have trouble getting a photo ID but as I understand it, the State is willing to help them
GESSLER: Yeah, I think, you know, the people who don’t want photo ID, I think a lot of their views are sincerely held. But when you look at exactly what’s happened in other states and how to implement photo ID correctly, it doesn’t cause a problem. So, if you look at other states – Indiana passed a strict voter identification law back in 2008, uh, or prior to the 2008 general election, voter turnout went up 20%. [In] Georgia, strict photo ID, African American voter turnout went up 31%. Neighboring Mississippi, no photo ID, African American turnout went up 2%. So I’m not saying that photo id actually causes the increase in turnout, but you certainly cannot say that it reduces voter turnout. And you have to implement photo ID wisely. In Colorado,if someone has fianancial need, they can get a state ID or a driver’s license for free. You know, the state will pay for that. So you have to implement it wisely and you have to recognize that there’s sometimes an exception and unusual circumstances. But if you do it right, photo ID works really well.
SILVERMAN: And they make the point in the O’Keefe video, that to get into any federal building – just try and to to the US Courthouse on Stout Street in Denver, you will not get in unless you show a photo ID.
GESSLER: That’s true. I mean, photo ID is part of our lives, pretty much, everywhere in the country. You need it to get a drink – a drink of alcohol, you need it to travel, you need it to have a driver’s license, you need it to collect welfare benefits, and I mean, you really need a photo ID for just about everything. And the folks who don’t have one, the state is willing to get one for them for free
SILVERMAN: Right. But as I understand it, the Democrats prevailed and they won’t even put it to a vote of the people.
GESSLER: That’s true. They, uh… Last week, in fact, they killed photo identification, they refused to allow people to even vote on it here, in the state of Colorado. Which, by the way, was the same week that they decided to push through this whole new thing about you know, removing those voter protections that we were talking about earlier. So I think they’ve really go a tin ear as to what Coloradans here want, and a way to protect voter integrity.
SILVERMAN: And is this a situation where the Democrats really are made to tow the party line? Were there any defectors from the party position?
GESSLER: You know, not in the, what they call the kill committee in the Senate. There were defectors in the House, in the State House of Representatives here in Colorado. There were a few Democrats that defected. And there’s a few other states. So for example, Rhode Island. You know, that’s one of the bluest of blue states that you’ve got in the country – they recently passed a photo identification requirement, and they are very proud of it. In fact, the guy who led the charge, I think, was the first African American state senator in Rhode Island, because he recognized that everyone can be a victim of fraud if you’re not vigilant.
SILVERMAN: Let’s take a few calls. Dave, you’re on with Secretary of State Gessler. Welcome!
DAVE: Hi, you know I’m not particularly interested in just having some set up with having voter identification and photo ID. And I have to tell you, it’s mostly because I would kind of prefer to get their photograph and fingerprints collected, and I want to see [inaudible] prosecuted. I mean this is a direct attack on our system. It is a felony.
SILVERMAN: Who do you want to see prosecuted?
DAVE: I want them prosecuted!
SILVERMAN: Who do you want to prosecute?
DAVE: The people who are casting fraudulent votes!
SILVERMAN: Well, I expect they are being prosecuted. Scott, am I right? I mean, to the extent the prosecutors find out about it, are people being prosecuted?
GESSLER: The answer is, “Sometimes.” For example, we just came across six people who voted twice in the last election, once in Kansas and once in Colorado, at the same time. We matched up their finger… we matched up their signatures, I mean the whole deal. We turned that over to the FBI and that was months ago, and we’ve not heard anything. So sometimes people just don’t prosecute these crimes because they feel as though they’re too small, or they don’t have the time, or something like that. And then sometimes people will prosecute crimes. Sometimes, if you look nationwide, it’s a bit hit-and-miss, but right now I’m hoping the federal authorities will prosecute some real vote fraud cheating that we uncovered.
SILVERMAN: You always hear rumors about voter fraud, election fraud. What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened in Colorado that you’re aware of?
GESSLER: You know, in recent history,… well, there’s, historically, you know, going back like forty, fifty years ago there were very clear instances of just outright stealing elections. In fact, I think it was down in southern Colorado some of the mining camps, the company towns there that they had, the companys would control the polling places and steal elections. And those were overturned. In Colorado, the last prosecutions I’m aware of, we’ve had some people vote in two states. And then when ACORN was operating, there were several people who were prosecuted, and convicted I believe, of voter registration fraud here in Colorado, as well. So, we’ve seen it happen historically in the past, you know, several decades ago, and we’ve seen it happen very recently too.
SILVERMAN: I saw where the democratic party called for boycotts of Coca Cola and Wal-Mart because they were part of an organization that supported these kinds of measures against voter fraud. What do you know about that and what’s been the result?
GESSLER: Well, I think that… So, there’s a group that’s like a think tank, that comes up with lots of ideas for legislation and photo ID is just one of many ideas that it’s come up with. It’s called the ALEC, I think, is the short name. And so the Democrats wanted to have boycotted CocaCola and Wal-Mart as well. And Coca Cola apparently pulled out, they removed their membership, which is really sort of sad, when you use that partisan pressure to sort of stifle people’s involvement in just thinking ideas—this wasn’t even the political process, it was just thinking policy ideas and generating those ideas. So it’s really, I think, fear and intimidation that in this case, that the Democrats are resorting to.
SILVERMAN: Right. And it sounds like they will do anything, including an effort to recall you. Is it all over this photo ID to vote situation, and why should a disagreement like that lead to a recall?
GESSLER: You know, I shouldn’t. I don’t think it should affect that at all. Here’s the thing, I mean, from day one, as you know, I’ve been willing to challenge the status quo here in the state of Colorado. And that sometimes makes enemies. I mean there’s a reason why the status quo exists — because people are invested in it. And a lot of folks in the Democratic Party hierarchy that are just furious with me, because I’m willing to ask questions that they don’t want asked and [I’m] willing to push policies that I think are good for Colorado and back them up with facts, as well. So when they start losing the debate here, they just sort of thump the table even harder, and I think that’s what you see going on right now.
[Craig Silverman and Scott Gessler entertain callers’ questions and comments regarding private efforts to bring the photo ID requirement to a vote of the people, and the limitations of transportation for some people who would need to get photo ID.]
SILVERMAN: Interesting stuff, because you never know who is going to be affected by legal change. I think it’s a debate worth having. This O’keefe video will add to the debate. Scott Gessler, your final word on the subject. It all kind of ties together and it seems to me that it’s all being ginned up and the sides are taking such strident opposite sides because they realize how much is at stake, not just in the future, but more specifically November 2012. That’s going to be a big election, do you think it’s going to be fraud free?
GESSLER: I can never guarantee anything as fraud free. But I can tell you we have a lot of hard working state officials, we’ve got… everyone in the state has the opportunity to be a poll worker, to be an observer… I always encourage people to get involved in the process because it’s a citizens’ process, people can be involved and have their own eyes on the ground to make sure that things are being done right. So, there’s vulnerabilities in the system, but we’ve got a lot of good people there. We hope that it’s going to be fraud free—that we’re not going to have problems, like Florida or Chicago has had in the pastand things like that. And we’ll have a good election. It’s a little bit of the crazy season right now, and you see some of the hyper ventilating going on with the Democratic State Party right now. But we’ll get through this, and we’ll have a great election.
SILVERMAN: Lot’s at stake. Colorado: a battleground state. Really good to have on Secretary of State Scott Gessler, and to learn what’s going on on the voter fraud front.