04 November 2005

The Denver Election Commission.

Young Angry Liberal and Common Cause have been sparring in e-mails over a Common Cause proposal to replace the Election Commission with an elected Clerk and Recorder who appoints a director for elections, the norm in almost every other county in Colorado.

The Common Cause proposal is horrible. Case in point: Tracy Baker. A bad Democratic clerk and recorder in Denver would be re-elected just as easily as a bad Republican clerk and recorder was in Arapahoe County.

Other cases in point for not having partisan elected officials run either ministerial record keeping or elections include Katherine Harris, a blatantly biased force in the 2000 Presidential election in Florida as Secretary of State, and the late Colorado Secretary of State Victoria Buckley, whose performance of the ministerial duties of her office was so poor that the legislature stripped this constitutional post of some of its responsibilities so that they wouldn't be mishandled.

Removing the election duties from the non-partisan aspects of the job of clerk and recorder allows a Mayor to appoint a qualified administrator to handle this important but apolitical post. I trust a Mayor whose success depends on public approval of the operations of the City and County of Denver to choose a qualified person for the clerk and recorder job more than I trust a political party, even my own political party, to do so. An ability to run a political campaign and get donations to run advertisements does not translate into an ability to process deeds, wedding licenses, mortgage recordings, or plats efficiently.

Is the election commission doing the best job possible right now? No, it is not. But, the officially non-partisan elected offices are not doing poorly because they are non-partisan. The system isn't broken and the election commission is not on the take. What is wrong is that the people who got elected weren't the best people for the job. Rather than trying to abolish the election commission, Common Cause should take a more obvious course: it should recruit and support more qualified candidates to run the election commission. Sometimes the voters screw up and the problem is generally self-correcting.

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