Republican candidate for Colorado governor Heidi Ganahl speaks Sep. 10, 2022, during the Club 20 Western Colorado Candidate Debates at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. (William Woody for Colorado Newsline)
Colorado Republican governor candidate Heidi Ganahl expressed doubt about the reliability of Colorado elections during a weekend interview with a prominent election denier who has repeatedly said the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
Sherronna Bishop, a former campaign manager for U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Silt who goes by “America’s Mom” on her podcast, interviewed Ganahl in an episode posted Saturday. Bishop said “there’s not a lot of credibility in the voting system even though it’s supposed to be the gold standard,” and asked Ganahl to respond.
Ganahl indicated she agreed with Bishop’s assessment, and she used the rhetoric of election conspiracy in her answer.
“In Colorado there is a lot we can do,” Ganahl said. “We can stop ballot harvesting, we can clean up the voter rolls, we can put voter ID in at more places, we can provide transparency.”
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The term “ballot harvesting” is often used by conspiracists to refer to ballot box stuffing or the illegal tampering of mail ballots. Election experts say instances of such fraud are exceedingly rare. The film “2000 Mules,” influential among supporters of former President Donald Trump, the primary source of election falsehoods, purported to expose ballot harvesting practices but has been debunked by numerous sources.
Ganahl cast doubt on the reliability of ballot tabulation machines, a common target of election deniers.
“It is not our job to prove that the machines are trustworthy, it is the companies’ job, it’s the vendor,” Ganahl said. “It’s not our job to prove, as citizens, as voters, that we should trust the system, it’s us as leaders that need to give you the information so that you do trust the system.”
She made a pledge to pursue “election integrity” inquiries as governor.
“I’m going to put together an Election Integrity Commission right off the bat to find out the answers to a lot of the questions that we’ve been asking that Jena Griswold will not answer,” she said.
Griswold is the Democratic secretary of state and an outspoken opponent of election deniers. She is running for reelection. Election deniers have adopted the phrase “election integrity” to signal a belief that elections are subject to widespread fraud.
I think Kari Lake and I are going to be in competition for who is going to be the DeSantis of the West.
– Heidi Ganahl, Colorado Republican governor candidate
The taint of election denial has marked Ganahl’s campaign from its very beginning. In public she avoided questions about the 2020 election, she praised a Colorado election-denial group, she expressed a favorable view of notorious coup plotter John Eastman, and she chose as her running mate a person who had written on social media that the “election of 2020 will go down as the most questioned election in our country’s history” and referred to it as “the Democrat steal.”
During the interview with Bishop, Ganahl said, “Unfortunately, (Joe) Biden’s our president,” gesturing with scare quotes around “president.”
Ganahl is challenging Democratic incumbent Gov. Jared Polis, who is expected to win by a substantial margin.
Ganahl said she has asked “everybody” to volunteer as election judges and poll watchers, and has set up an attorney-staffed hotline through which callers are encouraged to report election irregularities.
“If anybody sees anything they can call and they will be directed to an attorney who will help them deal with it immediately,” Ganahl said.
Ganahl said she and Bishop are drafting a letter to county clerks insisting they not leave their offices until every ballot is counted. Bishop said the letter will also request that clerks hand count ballots in addition to running them through tabulation machines. Election deniers, suspicious of machines, have long called for hand counts, even though experts say hand counts are expensive, time-consuming and less accurate than machine counts.
Ganahl is hardly the only GOP governor candidate in the country to indulge in election conspiracies. One of the most vocal election deniers running for office on Nov. 8 is Arizona governor candidate Kari Lake, a staunch stop-the-steal proponent who has suggested she won’t accept the results of the election if she loses.
As if to cement her allegiance with such figures, Ganahl, referring to Florida’s hard-right Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, told Bishop, “I think Kari Lake and I are going to be in competition for who is going to be the DeSantis of the West.”
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