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Gessler’s fair-elections wish list: photo I.D. and proof of citizenship

Posted by Kelly Maher on November 17th, 2010
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If we want secure voting in Colorado from citizens with a right to vote, then we should start with photo identification to vote, and work toward proof of citizenship for voter registration.

That’s the conclusion I drew from my conversation this week with Colorado Secretary of State-elect Scott Gessler, an election law expert.

“So, if you look at the stuff that requires a legislative change - on the top of the agenda, that would be photo identification, which I talked about a lot on the campaign trail, and proof of citizenship, as well,” Gessler said. “I’ll be surprised if proof of citizenship makes it through the current state Senate, but we’ll probably get a sponsor or two in the House; and in the Senate, and at least have that debate. Because it’s at least good to have that debate even if it doesn’t go through. But I’m definitely going to push for that.”

The way it SHOULDN’T work is how I voted on Election Day in Denver: offering my utility bill and no other identification (which is allowed, under current rules). That set-up wouldn’t even get me a Denver Public Library card. Don’t believe me? Watch this…


I don’t know the potential for voter fraud in Colorado, but this method seems rife with possibility. So I asked Gessler: how widespread is the practice of using a utility bill, or other non-photo I.D., to cast a ballot?

“I don’t think there are statistics on that,” he said. “There may be - some clerks and recorders may keep those. I’m not aware of any on the state-wide level certainly. And that’s actually something to be looked in to when we talk about photo identification and to see what’s really going on there. And I’ll be surprised if anyone’s really been keeping track of this stuff.”

I’m hoping Gessler helps fix this when he takes office in January, and that he gets bipartisan support from the legislature and Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper.

The Texas legislature will take up a photo I.D. proposal next session, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Meanwhile, the portion of Arizona’s 2004 law that required proof of citizenship to register was recently struck down by an appeals court, reported Politico.

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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kelly Maher
    Kelly, a co-founder of WhoSaidYouSaid, brings more than 10 years of campaign and policy work experience. In addition to her skills in grassroots activism and organization, Kelly has a knack for distilling complex issues into accessible messages that resonate with voters. Her policy specialties include health care, education, employment and tort reform. Follow Kelly on Twitter at @okmaher.

3 Responses to “Gessler’s fair-elections wish list: photo I.D. and proof of citizenship”

  1. Alex Hornaday says:

    Scott Gessler’s priorities (though the ones he outlined here require legislative action) are exactly why his was the most important race in Colorado, and I am over the moon that Scott won!

    I look forward to learning what Scott plans to do within the office that doesn’t require legislative action.

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