Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Colorado faces voter suppression battle

Colo. Sec. of State Gone Wild
While state lawmakers are busy passing “voter ID” laws to disenfranchise voters, Colorado’s Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler has taken his voter suppression efforts to court.

Gessler has asked a Denver judge to issue a preliminary injunction preventing the Denver Clerk and Recorder from mailing ballots to certain “inactive” voters.

Two Democratic Congressmen have already asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether Gessler violated federal law with his request.

Gessler’s efforts could have a particular impact on Initiative 300, a ballot referendum to allow Denver workers to earn up to nine paid sick days a year. The referendum will be decided by all-mail-in balloting.

Those who face being disenfranchised are “inactive” voters, eligible voters who have missed one general coordinated election. Gessler is challenging the Denver Clerk’s authority to mail ballots to these voters, which could amount to 55,000 eligible voters who will not get to vote this fall. Voter suppression disenfranchises seniors, the poor, students and minorities. And voters who participate in the 2011 election are also more likely to participate in 2012.

The Denver Post reports:

The letter from Rep. Robert Brady of Pennsylvania and Charles Gonzalez of Texas says Gessler's actions may violate the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discriminatory voting procedures.
"Given the diversity of the state of Colorado, and particularly that of Denver County, there is a high likelihood that the barrier to voting Secretary Gessler seeks to impose . . . will have such a discriminatory result," the letter states.
It says that not mailing ballots to eligible voters listed as "inactive" because they didn't vote last year "might make participation particularly hard" for disabled voters who may not have been able to get to the polls and Americans who may have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan in 2010 but who want to vote Nov. 1.
The Denver Clerk, Debra Johnson said, “The City and County of Denver has consistently provided all eligible voters with ease of access to the voting franchise and we plan to continue to do so.”

So, there.