Covid-19

“We are here to demonstrate today that our democracy will not be a casualty of this pandemic.” – Gov. Polis

FRUITA, CO – Governor Jared Polis, US Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), Secretary of State Jena Griswold, State Attorney General Philip Weiser, and Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul López held a press conference this morning at the Denver Clerk and Recorder’s office to issue statements about the upcoming election, concerns about voting by mail, and to answer questions. The press conference was livestreamed on Facebook.

“Every American should be able to exercise their right to vote,” Polis affirmed. He acknowledged that the pandemic “creates a challenge” to the election process, but he and the entire state election apparatus are committed to a “fully engaged and participating citizenry”. He pointed to Colorado’s universal vote-by-mail system as one that “both Democrats and Republicans are grateful for.”

Polis took aim at Trump and national Republicans’ stated fears of voter fraud, none of which are backed by any confirmed evidence.

Polis pointed out that in 2018, “.0027% of 2.5 million ballots cast were suspicious enough to warrant investigation,” and that there are many reasons why the signature verification will trigger an investigation, such as if someone had a stroke and their signature changed.

“Generally, signature verification works very well,” Polis said. “Voting by mail is not a partisan issue.”

Voting “is our right as Americans. Anybody who stands in our way is un-American and contrary to our Constitutional principles.”

Colorado secretary of state Jena Griswold echoed those statements, calling Colorado’s vote by mail system the “national gold standard” before the pandemic, and pointing out the record turnout that occurred during the state primaries earlier this year.

Griswold referred to her mother, a nurse who “worked to save lives” during the pandemic as an inspiration for her tireless efforts to safeguard Coloradans’ right to vote.

“It’s thousands of times more likely for an American to pass away from the virus than any type of voter fraud,” she said.

Griswold warned of a “coordinated effort to suppress the vote nationwide in November,” including lawsuits drawn up against states trying to use ballot dropboxes, mail-in voter suppression, and “foreign interference” in the electoral process.

She harkened back to 2017, when she said “Trump tried to disenfranchise” voters and she ran for the secretary of state position. “I will do everything in my power to stop him,” she said, “and we’re considering all options.”

Attorney-general Philip Weiser also struck a defiant tone in his remarks.

“We here in Colorado are committed to our democracy,” he said. “We’re going to fight for it using every tool we have.”

Weiser also took a question from the assembled press corps about broadband access.

“During this [pandemic], if you don’t have access to broadband, you are disabled from online learning, telemedicine […] and more. It is critical […] that you have broadband.”

Weiser, who is leading a coalition of 39 state attorneys general in urging Congress to expand rural access to broadband, said that “we need to make sure we’re confident […] that we have the facts behind it and are doing what’s in Colorado’s best interest.”

Photo: Screenshot of livestreamed press conference. Secretary of State Jena Griswold at the lectern. Standing behind her, L to R: US Senator Michael Bennet (D), Colorado State Attorney General Phil Weiser, Gov. Jared Polis, and Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul López.