Colorado cannot afford another election in which ill-informed partisans blindly vote straight-party tickets. Democrats, who increasingly outnumber Republicans in Colorado, voted straight ticket in 2018 and are suffering the consequences.

Straight-party voting in 2018 ousted Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican. He was widely considered the top elections official in the country by Democrats and Republicans. Every major Colorado newspaper endorsed him, including those that reliably support Democrats. Even the left-leaning Washington Post praised Williams, crediting him for the country’s safest election system.

A majority of Colorado’s Democratic county clerks endorsed Williams. He ran the office as a nonpartisan professional who treated everyone fairly.

Straight-party voting replaced him with Jena Griswold — a doctrinaire partisan with almost no qualifications for the job.

As expected, Griswold’s embarrassing attempt to run the office has election officials on edge about the fairness and security of November’s election. Griswold immediately politicized a traditionally nonpolitical office by boycotting Alabama, preventing election employees from attending a traditional training event, because she doesn’t like the state’s abortion laws. Abortion has nothing to do with administering Colorado’s elections and licensing.

An Oct. 9 article by the center-left Colorado Public Radio details how Griswold’s amateurish leadership has county clerks throughout Colorado in a state of distrust. They complain about the “aggressive politicization” of the office.

The article explains how Griswold tried to fix the country’s safest election system by supporting “a massive rewrite of state elections law.” CPR explained how the leadership team she hired “quit just months into her tenure.”

“The two — secretary of state and county clerks — typically work in bipartisan harmony in Colorado. But during Griswold’s brief tenure, that harmony has been tested,” the CPR article explains.

Griswold surprised clerks with a demand they open more in-person voting options and drop boxes, never explaining how they should pay for the mandates.

“The clerks were left without guidance from the secretary’s office about COVID-19,” CPR reports.

The straight-ticket election of 2018 also ejected long-time Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder Matt Crane, a Republican with impeccable credentials who ran a nonpartisan office. He was so widely respected, elections officials from Colorado’s 64 counties elected him president of the Colorado County Clerks Association.

Straight-party voters replaced Crane with Joan Lopez, a customer service employee in the county’s motor vehicle department. Her election website says she’s “a proud Democrat, that believes in a woman’s right to choose.”

Abortion, again, for a job managing elections. From abortion, the Lopez platform goes to “equal pay, then “LGBT” rights. Next comes immigration laws that “strive for inclusion.” Then gun control and criminal justice reform before a single mention of elections and licensing — the important responsibilities of a clerk and recorder.

The tenure of Lopez has been another embarrassment. She distributed a flyer encouraging people to “vote early and vote often.” While serving as clerk, she served as the registered agent for the far-left organization “Hardcore Democrats.”

Critics on the right and left blame Lopez for the disastrous 2019 election for Aurora mayor. An error caused Lopez to reissue tens of thousands of ballots.

More than 650 replacement ballots arrived to voters four hours before the polls closed. “One flub after another,” as described by Colorado Politics, led to nearly 10 days without a winner.

If Democrats made up a majority in El Paso County, our coroner would not be Dr. Leon Kelly — a medical doctor and forensic pathologist nationally respected for homicide investigations. He has helped Colorado Springs mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and has led fights against addiction, mental illness and suicide.

El Paso County Democrats voted at a rate that would have elected Chauncey Frederick as coroner, if they held the majority they do in most of Colorado. Frederick, with no scientific or medical background, described himself as a “regular Joe Schmo” with a bed and breakfast that invites overnight guests to smoke pot.

November’s election will choose between Republican Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic challenger John Hickenlooper. Gardner ranks among the five youngest, most productive and least partisan members of the Senate. He has introduced more bills signed into law in the past six years than the rest of Colorado’s nine-member delegation combined. He is Colorado’s only marquee player in Washington.

Straight-party voters could blindly elect Hickenlooper, a man who says he is “not cut out” for the job and embraces an ideological agenda too far left for Colorado.

By voting straight ticket, Democrats often elect down-ballot politicians who they don’t agree with. We saw it when 80% of voters supported Denver’s camping ban on the same ballot that elected politicians to oppose their will on the issue. We see it when voters overwhelmingly reject extreme oil and gas regulation while electing candidates who impose them. We see it when voters trounce tax hikes while electing politicians who want new taxes.

Study candidate platforms before voting for “Ds” and “Rs,” especially down ballot. We need fair public servants, not partisan extremists managing elections, license plates, suspicious deaths and Colorado’s practical needs in Washington.

The Gazette Editorial Board

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