Gessler sees better handling of elections

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Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler was the featured speaker at a March 16 town hall meeting sponsored by state Rep. Spencer Swalm.

Gessler, with his 4-year-old daughter Sofia at his feet, spoke to a handful of constituents gathered at the Koelbel Library in Centennial about accomplishments since his 2010 election as Colorado’s 37th secretary of state.

Among them were fee reduction holidays and a variety of other projects designed to increase office efficiency for voters.

While Gessler said he felt the 2012 elections went smoothly, he admits more needs to be done.

One area that has Gessler’s attention is mail-in ballot validation.

“Right now, about 75 percent of Colorado votes by mail,” he said. “And we’re working on ways to ensure those ballots are accurate.”

Problems with duplicate ballots, ballots without signatures or citizenship affirmations have historically been problematic, he said.

“The election process is still a very human process,” said Gessler, who hopes to run a mock election this year with a variety of ineligible ballots to test the system before the November elections.

Gessler specifically mentioned problems with voters who had mail-in ballots, but chose to vote in person.

“I can tell you with all the publicity we’ve had over this, my staff and I take this very seriously,” he said.

Careful not to criticize local clerk and recorders, Gessler noted errors have been made in the past, but “things are better.”

Gessler, who intends to seek his job again in 2014, began his career as a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice, focusing on international criminal law and terrorism. As a small businessman he later managed a construction company. He also served as an Army reservist for 16 years, including one overseas deployment.

Gessler, a Republican, has been criticized for his use of his office’s discretionary account for political purposes, paying for his August 2011 trip to a Republican National Lawyers Association meeting in Sarasota, Fla., and to the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

The Denver District Attorney’s Office launched a criminal investigation last year against Gessler, and the State of Colorado is currently footing the bill for his defense against an ethics complaint that he misused public monies.

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