My search for an explanation from Scott Gessler about why he's been telling the media there's actual "fraud" in Colorado elections bore a bit of fruit last night, when I asked him directly about his allegations.
I respect Gessler for answering my question, even though a crowd of people was waiting in line to speak with him after his lecture at Colorado Christian University's Centennial Institute.
I identified myself as a "liberal blogger," and he hesitated but still answered my question.
I asked him about his statement, on a radio show in September, that there was actual fraud among mail ballots returned by inactive voters in Denver.
He said he was "not quite sure" he made this statement about the last election. He didn't. He was referring to the 2009 municipal election, but the same question applies: Was there actual fraud, like he said?
In the radio interview, Gessler said there was a "pretty high incidence of fraud" in Denver's 2009 election among ballots returned by inactive voters. Listen to Gessler's Sept. 30 radio statement here.
Regarding 2009, Gessler told me last night:
Gessler: I think if you look at Denver, though, you'll see in 2009, for a large number of folks, the signatures didn't match. I think that's an indicium of fraud, right there, when the signatures don't match.
Jason: It's an indication of fraud, but you wouldn't say that it's fraud, would you?
Gessler: I said it's an indicium of fraud. It very well may be. It's not been fully investigated, to my knowledge.
After Gessler alleged fraud in Denver elections in September, Denver's Clerk and Recorder denied the accusation, and the head of the Secretary of State's election division later testified that he was not aware of any fraud relating to ballots mailed to inactive voters.
No talk show host or reporter that I know of asked Gessler what actual factual fraud he was talking about, so I tried to fill in the gap and ask his office, but I got no comment. Until last night.
Last week, Gessler made another vague statement to a reporter in Pueblo that some mail-in ballots are fraudulent. And during his election campaign in 2010, Gessler implied illegal behavior on the part of Denver election officials.
I'd liked to have asked Gessler more questions about his allegations, but he didn't want to discuss it further, as you can see from the transcript of my interview here.
The biggest question in my mind is, why in the world would a Colorado Secretary of State, who's gotta respect America's democratic ideals even more than the rest of us, play fast and loose with the F word?
I'm sorry if this sounds all high-minded, but does Gessler understand the damage he's potentially doing by making people think their election system, upon which we base our imperfect but respectable system of self government, is rotting around the edges, sprinkled with fraud, if not laced with it?
I'm hoping to talk more with him about why he does this, with nothing but speculation to back him up.