Not much unexpected happened at Governor Jared Polis's press conference/pep rally in downtown Denver on October 15. Polis and a slew of top state officials, joined by First Gentleman Marlon Reis, delivered a common message: Voting in Colorado is easy, reliable and accurate, and everyone who can should participate. Indeed, the closest thing to a surprise was that a member of the GOP — Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman — took a turn at the podium and said the same thing.
"As a former Republican Secretary of State, I oversaw a presidential election in 2008," Coffman noted. "I would say that election was secure, was safe, was transparent. And I also want to tell the people of Colorado that going into this 2020 election, I have every confidence that this election is transparent, it's safe and secure, and that's under a Democrat Secretary of State." That would be Jena Griswold, who looked on with pride along with Polis, Reis, Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera, State Senator Julie Gonzales, and Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul López.
Of course, voting shouldn't be a partisan issue, but like pretty much every other element of American life, it's become one this year. The reason is simple: Most election experts theorize that the more people who vote, the better the odds are for Democrats, while Republicans' best chance is to dissuade as many folks as possible (other than members of their loyal base, of course) from heading to the polls. Hence the efforts of President Donald Trump and his forces to cast doubts on the mail-in voting process, which will be more widely used than ever before across the country in an effort to prevent greater spread of COVID-19.
This is the second media event in recent months to counter that narrative; the first, staged on August 17, included several of the same players (Polis, Griswold and López) along with a couple of other fellow Dems (Senator Michael Bennet and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser) who couldn't make it this time around. There were other differences, too. The initial get-together was staged in López's office, while this one took place near a ballot drop box on Court Street outside the Wellington Webb Municipal Office Building. The outdoors location translated to plenty of traffic noise for the online stream, which was also disrupted by random conversations by behind-the-scenes personnel during some of the remarks. Hard to say if either of these elements can be described as a technical difficulty....
For his part, Polis aimed for soaring rhetoric about elections, quoting, among others, French historian Alexis de Tocqueville. Reis went the domestic route, referencing Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address, while Griswold switched into promotional mode. "I guess it doesn't go without saying that Colorado leads the nation in voter access," she pointed out before offering some actual numbers from recent days. She revealed that more than 300,000 ballots had already been cast as of yesterday, October 14 — approximately 24 times more than had been received around this time in 2016. She also stressed that the state's 383 drop boxes and 342 voting centers, where people can make their choices in person, both represent significant increases.
Griswold was followed by López, who dubbed the voting process in Colorado "100 percent pandemic proof," and Coffman, who talked up Aurora's diversity and said the city is reaching out to immigrant communities to make sure "those newly minted American citizens" get the opportunity to exercise their voting rights. Gonzales, for her part, described feeling like "a kid at Christmas" when she received her mail-in ballot over the weekend, and said that she and her entire family researched the issues before a planned joint drop-off.
A brief question-and-answer session with on-site reporters found Polis and Griswold castigating voter intimidation even as they acknowledged that there haven't been any examples of this crime to date. Griswold also conceded that the state is likely to fall below the 89.5 percent of ballots counted on election night that was set during the primary earlier this year, since voting volume will be much higher — but she's confident that we'll know the results more quickly than most other states, since Colorado's system allows counting to begin fifteen days before the election.
As a bonus, Polis, Coffman and López engaged in a friendly competition to see who could best answer a Spanish-language inquiry in that particular tongue. It represented a kind of bipartisanship, too.
For more information about voting, including registration, which can be done as late as election day, November 3, visit GoVoteColorado.com.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.