‘Stay vigilant’ to protect mail-in voting system, cautions AG Weiser

    BRIEF

    A ballot box stands outside the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library on Welton Street in Denver on June 17, 2020. (Quentin Young/Colorado Newsline)

    Phil Weiser, the Colorado attorney general, expressed confidence in the integrity of the state’s mail-in voting system and its ability to defeat a legal challenge to the system.

    But he acknowledged a need to be on guard against ways President Trump or members of his administration might compromise the vote, specifically if Trump campaign-friendly leadership at the U.S. Postal Service sought ways to interfere with mailed ballots.

    “I’m concerned,” Weiser told Newsline during a phone interview Friday.

    Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. (usps.com)

    Among concerns recently reported: Louis DeJoy, who was appointed postmaster general in May, is a top Trump donor. He implemented changes in mid-July, including eliminating most overtime, which some observers interpreted as an attempt to slow down mail delivery and impede mail-in voting systems (DeJoy rejected this interpretation). On Friday DeJoy announced a major shake-up of Postal Service leadership, which, according to the Washington Post, “centralizes power around DeJoy … and de-emphasizes decades of institutional postal knowledge.” Rep. Gerald E. Connolly “called the reorganization ‘a deliberate sabotage’ to the nation’s mail service,” according to the Post. 

    There has been no greater critic of mail-in voting than the president, who for weeks has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that mail-in voting is susceptible to fraud. In a July 30 tweet he even suggested that due to the inaccuracy of mail-in voting systems, which some states are expanding to offer voters better COVID-19 protections, the general election in November should be delayed.

    Colorado’s mail-in system, adopted with a 2013 state law, is widely viewed as a national model of success. Four other states — Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — send mail ballots to every voter. With its long experience and reliable safeguards, Colorado’s system is well positioned to withstand any Postal Service efforts to compromise election results, according to Weiser.

    Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. (coag.gov)

    “We have built a system that is sufficiently robust that we are not going to be harmed the way others might be,” Weiser.

    But he is watching for signs of trouble.

    “We have to stay vigilant,” he said.

    Asked whether he is preparing to defend Colorado’s mail-in voting system — he calls it “vote at home” — from a Trump administration legal challenge, Weiser said he can’t see any legal grounds on which a challenge could be brought.

    “We have been doing this for quite some time, and we have shown how reliable, safe and secure our voting systems are,” he said, adding that the state has Tenth Amendment authority to operate the system.

    States that have newer or less reliable mail-in systems might find themselves in a weaker legal position than Colorado, he said.

    Colorado’s mail-in system proves that “a lot of the rhetoric around mail-in voting is not factual,” he said.

    “I think Colorado is a model for the nation,” he said.

    Ballots will be mailed to Colorado voters starting Oct. 9.