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U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, left, Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder applaud President Barack Obama during his speech on gun control at the Denver Police Academy on Wednesday, April 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski) U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, left, Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder applaud President Barack Obama during his speech on gun control at the Denver Police Academy on Wednesday, April 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)  

Republican election official shut out of Colorado Dems’ election reform efforts

Greg Campbell
Contributor

Colorado Democrats are moving forward with legislation that would drastically change how people in the state vote, but the Republican official in charge of overseeing elections says he’s been shut out of the process.

In fact, Secretary of State Scott Gessler said that no Republican lawmakers were consulted on a bill that will require that every registered voter receive a mail-in ballot and allow unregistered voters to register as late as Election Day.

The reforms open the door to voter fraud, Gessler said.

But when he tried to get involved in crafting the legislation, which he called a 123-page rewrite of Colorado election law, Gessler says he was “regularly rebuffed” by the bill’s primary sponsor Rep. Dan Pabon and the Colorado County Clerk’s Association, one of its main backers.

Yet liberal groups seem to have had a great deal of input into the bill.

In an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation, Gessler said he obtained a copy of the first 100 pages of a draft “from someone who was disgusted with the process.”

He said it contained notes referencing Martha Tierney, a lawyer for the Colorado Democratic Party; Elena Nunez, the executive director of Colorado Common Cause; and Sean Hinga, the state political and legislative director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

“There were drafters’ notes in there saying ‘ask these people for information on how we resolve this issue, or how we do that,’” he said. “So those were really the sorts of people who were driving this.”

Gessler’s impression is bolstered by an email published by MediaTrackers that shows even more liberal-leaning and progressive groups may have been involved.

In the email, Nunez sent a draft of the bill to nine recipients for review. They included Tierney and Hinga, but also a representative of America Votes, which describes itself on its website as advancing “progressive policies”; several county clerks, including those in Democratic strongholds in Boulder and Denver counties; and Carolyn Siegel, a lobbyist and former political director of the Colorado AFL-CIO.

Siegel also worked with ACORN in both Chicago and Colorado, according to her biography on her company’s website.

The email was sent March 25, several weeks before the bill was eventually introduced.

By comparison, Gessler was given four minutes to talk on the bill when it was heard in committee on Monday, the same amount of time as other elected officials.

He described the whole process as a “partisan power play,” with Democrats trying to capitalize on their majority status in both chambers of the state legislature.

“I see it as petty and small minded,” Gessler said.