Opponents of voter-verification measures like the one Secretary of State Scott Gessler promoted earlier this year frequently note that few cases of fraud actually surface. This week, however, David Shackley, 69, will be sentenced for the crime. But he hardly fits the profile of non-citizens defrauding the system that Gessler has cited -- and in the view of one opponent of strict new bills, the conviction proves current laws are sufficient.
According to the 18th Judicial District DA's office, Shackley voted early in Denver County back in 2008, and also submitted a mail-in ballot in Arapahoe County. Afterward, a DA's office investigator issued Shackley a warning and put him in contact with the county clerk in an effort to clear up confusion about residency. A few months later, however, Shackley received two mail-in ballots, from Adams and Arapahoe counties, respectively -- and he sent both of them in. Shackley will be sentenced for this offense tomorrow, September 15.
To Kjersten Forseth, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado, which lobbied against Gessler's voter-verification measure, the Shackley case "shows that they found this guy almost immediately and were able to go after him -- and that we're able to properly prosecute individuals who willfully choose to violate the law."
As such, she believes the incident proves voter-verification measures aren't intended to address a serious, ongoing issue. Rather, their agenda is to make voting more difficult for members of various communities more likely to support Democratic or progressive candidates.
"These new regulations are coming in from across the nation, and they're the equivalent of deciding that because convenience stores have thefts every once in a while, we should lock up all the merchandise," she says. "It's a huge overreaction that's creating barriers for individuals who just want to exercise their rights."
HB 1252, the bill Gessler supported during the last session, was eventually set aside, but Forseth won't be surprised if it reappears when legislators next convene.
"There's been a concerted effort by a group called ALEC," the American Legislative Exchange Council, Forseth points out. "They've created template legislation being introduced across the U.S. to make it more difficult for people to vote."
The template, on view below, mirrors "some of the laws we've seen enacted in Georgia that can be extraordinarily intrusive," Forseth continues. "And I anticipate it coming up again here, because Gessler has shown he's part of this cooperative, which has been introducing legislation very similar to ALEC's in order to pare down the voter rolls."
In the meantime, Gessler has made headlines for reducing a fine for the Larimer County Republican Party, which failed to file many campaign-finance reports in 2010, then agreeing to participate in a fundraiser to pay off the sum that remains. Yesterday, the Fort Collins Coloradoan published an editorial urging him to cancel the appearance, which involves him sitting in a dunking booth.
"He clearly shows a partisan bent, as he has from the beginning," Forseth maintains, adding, "We need to keep an eye on Scott Gessler and make sure he's truly protecting the rights of people to vote, and not just doing the bidding of partisans."
Here's the aforementioned ALEC template bill:
More from our Kenny Be/Comics archive: "Scott Gessler's part-time law job ad campaign: Kenny Be's Worst-Case Scenario."
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