EDITOR'S NOTE: This editorial has been updated from the original version, removing a statement that reported the secretary of state's employees would forgo election training. Though scrubbed from the secretary's press release at the suggestion of Planned Parenthood, employees plan to train in Colorado.
When Colorado voters went straight ticket Democrat last year, as a show of frustration with President Donald Trump, they ejected the country’s most respected election official. They replaced Secretary of State Wayne Williams with an amateur salsa dancer who lacks qualifications for the job.
In a culture increasingly concerned about Russian interference and other forms of election tampering, experts looked to Williams for answers. He was the public servant with a plan and a system to make sure all votes count and no one commits election fraud. The Washington Post declared Colorado “the safest state to cast a vote” because of practices and procedures developed and enacted by Williams.
Other secretaries of state sought Williams’ advice. His nonpartisan dedication to public service earned him endorsements from informed organizations on the left, right and all points between. He so transcended partisan pettifoggery that every Colorado newspaper endorsed his re-election campaign.
In challenging Williams for his job, Democrat Jena Griswold treated it like a joke. We were not sure she expected to win. Asked during a debate why she seldom bothered to vote, Griswold explained one missed election.
“I was actually studying the international dance of salsa and looking at globalization. If everybody wants to see some of my moves afterward, I’m very happy to do that,” she said.
It should come as little surprise the flippant Griswold cannot focus on her job. Thursday, she wasted public resources on a state other than Colorado and an issue — abortion — that has nothing to do with her role as secretary of state.
Down south in Montgomery, Ala. — 1,400 miles and 21 road hours from Denver — state legislators overwhelmingly voted to outlaw abortion with an exception for pregnancies jeopardizing the lives of mothers. Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed it into law.
As Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis points out, a similar law would never reach his desk. Colorado was first to decriminalize abortion in 1967 — six years before the Supreme Court ordered all states to allow abortion. Some view Colorado’s abortion history as progressive and enlightened; others considered it barbaric and ignorant.
Either way, Colorado and Alabama are great distances apart in miles and mores. They exemplify the “laboratories of democracy” so artfully described by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.
Alabama, not Colorado, passed a law that flouts the ruling in Roe v. Wade. The federal courts will decide whether Alabama can enforce it.
Enter Secretary Griswold, who spent Thursday interjecting herself into Alabama’s decision. On state letterhead and on the state website, Griswold called for a boycott of Alabama.
Secretary of state employees typically visit Alabama for training by the National Association of Election Officials. That is a good thing, because we want our election officials informed of the latest norms and practices.
“I will not authorize the spending of state resources on travel to Alabama for this training or any other purpose,” Griswold wrote.
Compare Griswold's conduct to that of Williams, who never weighed in on social issues in Colorado — much less those in distant states. It was not his job.
Griswold has conducted herself like no other secretary of state anyone can remember. She became the first to fire nearly all personnel immediately for the sake of replacing them with partisan allies who share her extreme, doctrinaire views.
In firing nonpolitical staffers, Griswold lost decades of combined experience. She even dismissed Communication Director Lynn Bartels, a veteran Colorado journalist and political moderate recently inducted into the Denver Press Club’s Hall of Fame. By eliminating Bartels, Griswold trashed a culture of transparency that put the public’s interests first.
Griswold has functioned as a partisan hack from day one, urging election bills that lacked initial support of a single county clerk or Republican legislator. She encouraged a bill that would force schools to allow third-party, partisan organizations to register children for future elections and collect their personal information. She supported a bill that requires state officials to register individuals automatically if they encounter a state agency through any means.
As Griswold works behind a partisan fortress, we have no confidence our state will remain the safest in which to cast a vote. Lose no sleep, because our secretary of state is fighting for the people — to have abortions. In Alabama. That’s our taxes at work, under the new regime.