Should I write another blog about Secretary of State Scott Gessler on the radio?
Probably not, but then I say to myself, if my three readers don't know the kind of stuff smart talk-radio hosts like KHOW's Craig Silverman let Gessler get away with saying, without raising a peep of protest, then there's no hope that lesser radio hosts will do the right thing and ask Gessler follow-up questions that would illuminate the innuendo and misinformation in his statements.
You still might say, who cares? Gessler and the radio hosts are hopeless. Let the hot air go float out of the room undisturbed.
I'd be inclined to think the same way if I didn't hear the things Colorado's top-dog election official says. But once I hear Gessler, I can't convince myself that doing nothing is the proper response.
It started on KHOW's Caplis and Silverman on Monday when Craig Silverman, hosting alone with Dan Caplis away, asked Gessler, "You always hear rumors about voter fraud, election fraud. What's the worst thing that's ever happened in Colorado that you're aware of?"
Good question, right? It's a polite way of asking, "Mr. Secretary of State, you've spread baseless claims of voter fraud, including right here on this radio show when you said there's a 'pretty high incidene of fraud' here in Denver, but can you cite a specific example of fraud in Colorado, ever?"
"Well," replied Gessler to Silverman's question, not mine (his office won't talk to me). "There's, historically, you know, going back like forty, fifty years ago, there were very clear instances of just outright stealing elections. In fact, I think it was down in southern Colorado some of the mining camps, the company towns there that they had, the companies would control the polling places and steal elections. And those were overturned. In Colorado, the last prosecutions I'm aware of, we've had some people vote in two states. And then when ACORN was operating, there were several people who were prosecuted, and convicted I believe, of voter registration fraud here in Colorado, as well. So, we've seen it happen historically in the past, you know, several decades ago, and we've seen it happen very recently too."
I wish Silverman had asked Gessler about the "some people" who were allegedly prosecuted for voting in two states. When? How many? Where? I did some research and cannot find a recent case like this.
I wish Silverman had pointed out that "voter registration fraud" is a completely different animal than voter fraud. Because no one actually voted. So his reference to ACORN, apparently referring to a 2005 case when employees were convicted of submitting false voter registration forms, is misleading.
And I wish Silverman had jumped all over Gessler's conclusion that "we've seen [election fraud] happen very recently, too." Very recently? Gessler didn't provide any facts to support this.
Asked about his interview with Gessler, Silverman told me he was too pressed for time to deal with the complicated topic of voter fraud.
"I did not have time to flesh that out," he told me, adding the topic would lead to a "ten-minute rabbit hole." "A follow up would have led to an insider-baseball discussion about those cases."
I don't think asking for basic details about the cases, where and when they occurred, is insider baseball. Neither is a discussion about the distinction between "election fraud" and "voter registration fraud."
"If you get into the minutia of legal cases it's is a turn off [for listeners.]," said Silverman. "While I care about the issue, it's not one of my areas of expertise."
"I will say this," Silverman said. "Gessler is good for talk radio. He's in the eye of the storm."
So here's question that might lead Silverman, me, and Gessler out of the rabbit hole and into the sunlight.
(Sorry in advance if it sounds too lofty.)
Gessler may be good for talk radio, and for bloggers for that matter, but what about our basic trust in government, which rests to some degree on faith in elections? How seriously should take it, or should we ignore it, when our Secretary of State is running around on the radio and elsewhere making accusations of very recent election fraud (we're talking outright fraud, even by noncitizens), that are unproven or have been categorically disproven?
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