Kelley and Company, Scott Gessler, October 19, 2012

Station:      KNUS, 710 AM

Show:        Kelley and Company

Guests:      Gessler


Date:         October 19, 2012

Topics:      Absentee voting, Denver County Clerk and Recorder, Primary Ballot, Mail-in Ballot, Provisionary Ballot, $1,400, Reimbursements, Voter Fraud, Bonus, Military Ballot,  Voter ID, Signature Verification,

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[discussion with Scott Gessler problem-solving with caller Katie as to what to do after requesting a mail ballot for her grandmother in Denver County and receiving a ballot for the primary back in June of 2012]

HOST STEVE KELLEY: [from 2:32]  Go ahead, Scott.

SECRETARY OF STATE SCOTT GESSLER:  Well, I mean, obviously, something’s not right.  I mean, she got the wrong ballot.  Um, now, what – are you in Denver, then?  Denver County?

CALLER KATIE:  My grandmother is in Denver County, yes.

GESSLER:  Okay. So, your grandmother lives in Denver.  So, it looks as though Denver really goofed up, there.  Um, so, here’s the thing.  She can do one of two things.  She can get a replacement ballot.


GESSLER:  Or she can go in and vote.

KELLEY:  Does she have to drive – does she have to take her [own] time again and drive down to Denver, take time out of her day, and do this?

GESSLER:  The answer is probably ‘yes’.

KELLEY:  Uh-huh.

GESSLER:  Um, you may be able to resolve it on the phone—

CALLER:  Okay.

GESSLER:  –and be able to talk to Denver, but you know, but I can’t promise that.  You may have to, you know, spend that time to go down, and –

CALLER:  Well, she’s homeward bound.

GESSLER:  She’s home?

CALLER:  I’m not – She’s homeward bound.  Mmmm-hmm.

KELLEY:  Home bound, yeah

GESSLER:  All right.  She needs the absentee ballot.  Well, here’s the thing.  I would suggest, you know, talking to Denver again, you know, and if you don’t get the right answer from someone at the desk – if they say, “We don’t know if she’s going to get a ballot”, that’s not the right answer.

CALLER:  Mmm-hmm.  Okay.

GESSLER:  So, you should say, “Look, I’d like to speak to your supervisor or whomever, and I want to know the exact procedures for getting a replacement ballot.  She’s not ambulatory.  She has to stay at home, and so we need this absentee ballot.”

CALLER:  Mmm-hmm.

KELLEY:  Scott, should they have provided that at that point so that she doesn’t have to go through this whole rigmarole again?  What would have been the best way to handle this?  And you, as Secretary of State, in charge of these kinds of things, especially in this contentious election, —

GESSLER:  You know, the answer is ‘maybe’.  Because remember, you’re the one who brought it in for your grandmother, so, you know, Denver was—

CALLER:  No, I had a mail-in ballot for her.  And it came to her house.

GESSLER:  Right. Right.  But when you went down to Denver and you brought the ballot and you said, “I want a replacement”—


GESSLER:  Remember, you were asking for a replacement for a different person, not for yourself.

KELLEY:  Yeah.

GESSLER:  So that’s a little bit of a wrinkle, there,

CALLER:  Okay.

GESSLER:  So that’s a little bit of a wrinkle.  Because someone is going to be hesitant just to hand out ballots–

KELLEY:  Sure.

GESSLER:  –to someone whose ballot it isn’t.  They’re saying it’s for someone else.

CALLER:  True.

KELLEY:  And that’s a good thing.


CALLER:  Exactly.

GESSLER:  You want them to be careful about that.  So, that very well may be what’s going on.  So, I’m not ready to throw Denver under the bus.  Um, now maybe if they don’t, you know, if they continue to have problems, then you know, we may really want to focus some blame on them.  But at this point,–

KELLEY:  Yeah.

GESSLER:  –you know, they may be a little bit confused as well, trying to figure this out.  Now, is your grandmother in a nursing home, or anything along those lines?

CALLER:  No.  She’s – we have her at home.

GESSLER:  Okay, at home.

CALLER:  Uh, she broke her hip a bit ago, and she has a hard time walking.  And so, yeah.  It’s just really hard for her to get out.  And that’s why I said I’ll do mail-in, and I’ve got plenty of time to do it.

GESSLER:  Well, what I would do is call back to Denver, and call ‘til you get to the person who can help you out.

CALLER:  Okay.

GESSLER:  And then, if you want, feel free to shoot me an email at my office address and that—

CALLER:  Okay.

GESSLER:  We have the most complex office addresses.  But just look it up on the website and shoot me an email if you continue to run into problems and we can help connect you to the right person in Denver, to make sure that your grandmother has the opportunity to vote.

KELLEY:   All right, Katie, thank you.

CALLER:  Thank you, so much!

KELLEY:   You’re more than welcome.  Scott, if you would be so kind to stay with us for just a second, here.   Thank you again for joining us.  I know it’s busy — certainly a busy time of year.  Any concerns about voter fraud?  And what is in place to keep something potentially from happening?

GESSLER:  Well, you know, there’s always concerns.  My view is that in any human endeavor, there’s a small group of people who if they are tempted by money or power will do the wrong thing.

KELLEY:   Yeah.

GESSLER:  You know, so, that’s always something we have to be vigilant about.  Colorado, compared to a lot of other states, I think, we do a very good job.  I mean, we’re not perfect, but we do a good job.  Um, you know, some of the things that happen—we do have a identification at the polls. It’s a very weak form of identification.  I think we need a stronger – you know, photo ID at the polls.  We don’t have that in Colorado.  Most of our ballots are by mail, just like Kelly’s [Katie’s] grandmother wants to vote by mail.  So, we do have signature verification and signature matches.  Part of the challenge we have is there is some slop in our voter rolls.  So, for example, we know there’s a number of non-citizens who are on our voter rolls.  I think most of them get there by accident, but we know they are there and haven’t been able to, you know, do the types of things that we need to make sure that is fully scrubbed and cleaned and accurate.   Um, we also have, actually, about 10 counties in the state of Colorado where there are more registered voters than there are people.  And that sort of gives you a sense of some of the bloat we have on the rolls.

KELLEY:   Mmm-hmmm.

GESSLER:  Most of those are very rural, small counties, so the numbers can fluctuate a little bit more than [in] some of the metro counties.

KELLEY:   Right.

GESSLER:  So we’ve got that challenge, as well. And then you always have the challenge of just running the election.  I mean, elections are big, they’re complex—a lot more complex than I think people realize, when you have absentee voting and early voting and election day voting and provisional ballots and  military ballots coming in.  So, they can be really complex. One of the challenges is just making sure that all the parts are moving and you don’t have mistakes and error.

KELLEY:   What is your confidence level? And we’re running short on time.  What is your confidence level, one to one hundred percent, that this is going to be a clean –[an] absolutely clean, fair election in a swing state in such a big election?

GESSLER:  I think I’m looking at about ninety-eight, ninety-nine percent confident.

KELLEY:   Okay. All right. Excellent.  Uh, Scott, thank you very much for coming on.  I know you’re on the front page of The Post this morning, with this $1,400 story. It’s a joke, in my mind. It looks like a ridiculous thing. You want to respond to that in any way shape or form. I looked at that and I said, ‘Come on.’

GESSLER:  Sure. Here’s what’s going on. I mean, The Post is doing a level of fly specking and holding sort of my spending to a standard that they’ve never done to anyone else and they’re certainly not doing to anyone else. You know, our governor uses his discretionary funds, and these are discretionary funds that don’t quite fall within the category of state business. He uses his discretionary funds to fly to Davos, Switzerland, and I don’t begrudge him that. I think it’s fine. My predecessor used his discretionary funds for all kinds of things. He went to Taiwan and used some discretionary funds to travel around Taiwan. And you don’t question–

KELLEY:   We’re talking about $1,400. Come on!

GESSLER:  So The Post is, I mean, they’re on this sort of jihad I think, and it’s truly a double standard. It’s one thing I’ve learned to accept because, ah, you know, let’s face it, The Post doesn’t always like me all the time. But I think most people will realize that at the end of the day this is really penny ante, petty stuff that The Post is talking about. The real stuff is, have we gotten a lot of people to register to vote. Are we running a clean election. How are our business registrations? Our fees are among the lowest in the country. Things are working at the office better than they ever have before. I think that’s the substance of what we need to focus on.

KELLEY:   Scott, thank you very much. I appreciate that. And we’ll see you down the road.

GESSLER:  Great. Thank you very much.

KELLEY:   Continue the good work.