When Gessler alleges election fraud, journalists should report whether he has evidence of it

In an an article in the Pueblo Chieftain Thurs, Secretary of State Scott Gessler was quoted as saying, as he has in the past, that some mail-in ballots are fraudulent.

The Chieftain reported:

Verifying the validity of voters’ signatures on mail-in ballots also poses a challenge, according to Gessler.

“A fair number of ballots are rejected because signatures don’t match,” he said. “Signature verification is sort of a black art.”

“Signatures vary a lot, and sometimes people’s signatures don’t match what’s on file. Some are fraud, some are innocent mistakes.” [BigMedia emphasis]

You can argue about Gessler’s definition of the black arts, but the Secretary of State either has data to back up his assertion of election fraud or he doesn’t, and it’s such a serious allegation, possibly bringing into question people’s basic trust in our representative government, that a reporter shouldn’t let it slide by without reporting whether Gessler has evidence of it.

I mean, if it’s not in the public interest for all of us to know about election fraud, when it’s alleged by the Secretary of State, I don’t know what is.

So I emailed the Chieftain’s Patrick Malone, who wrote the piece, and asked if Gessler told him how many instances of fraud he’s found and when and where Gessler found them. I asked if Gessler thought Pueblo was particularly problematic, fraud-wise.

Malone responded: “On the topic of fraud, I took [Gessler] to be speaking in general terms about the statewide picture and basing it solely on his suspicions.”

I would argue that if Gessler tells a reporter that election fraud exists, and it turns out to be, in fact, based on Gessler’s suspicions without proof, then a phrase like, “Gessler could provide no proof of election fraud in Colorado,” should be included after the Gessler allegation, because it’s such a serious accusation.

The burden of proof is on Gessler to supply the proof of fraud, not on reporters to prove that his assertion of election fraud is not true.

So reporters don’t need to do any research here. Just asking for the facts and reporting the answer is what’s required.

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