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New York Times not letting Mike Coffman off the hook

Mike Coffman.

On October 9, the New York Times published a startling article claiming that 37,000 people had been purged from Colorado's voting rolls since July 21 -- a charge to which Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman, who's running for Congress in the safest district imaginable, didn't respond prior to the piece's appearance. Granted, he did so afterward, arguing that the Times's numbers were greatly inflated. But by not being proactive -- he said his office hadn't gotten back to the Times on its voting salvo due to miscommunication -- he clearly made the situation far worse than it needed to be.

Attorney General John Suthers subsequently determined that the purging of duplicate voter registrations was legal -- but that doesn't mean Coffman's discomfort is over. The Independent Ethics Commission has voted to hear a complaint against him about an alleged conflict of interest related to a voting-machine firm. And now, assorted local news agencies are reporting that as many as 6,400 people may not have their vote counted because of the most minor of registration minutiae -- a controversy the Times is giving national play today via an offering headlined, "New Colorado Voters Are Told to Reregister After Failure to Check Box on Form."

Again, Coffman didn't speak directly to the Times, which was left to quote him from a prepared statement on the topic -- and you can bet correspondents will remember when he's elected as a U.S. Representative. He'll arrive in Washington, D.C. with a reputation for ineptitude that won't help him make his mark in a Congress virtually guaranteed to be more heavily weighted toward Democrats next year than it is now. That's especially true if there are issues regarding the election itself -- and a new report argues that Colorado is ill-prepared for electronic voting problems.

Better redouble your efforts to prevent such troubles, Mr. Coffman -- because you can bet the New York Times will be watching. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts