GOP operative: Colorado elections law impacting fundraising

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DENVER — Since last year when Democrats first announced a massive overhaul of how Colorado runs elections, Republicans have argued that the main changes — sending mail ballots to all voters, allowing registration as late as Election Day and tracking voter records and information electronically — all increase the chances of voter fraud.

Democrats, who saw that new law backfire almost immediately in last fall’s recall elections when one provision ran afoul of the state constitution, are proposing a bill to fix that wrinkle that will be given a hearing Friday.

While saying publicly they think elections laws expanding voter access should be bipartisan, they’ve long suspected that Republicans really oppose such changes for political reasons.

On Thursday, a top Republican fundraiser and strategist said as much during a private conference call with a conservative women’s group that was surreptitiously recorded by a group member and given to FOX31 Denver by a Democratic operative.

Kelly Maher, who runs the group Compass Colorado, told the Women’s Alliance that GOP operatives worry about specific impacts from the new law for political reasons.

“I’ve spent some time back in DC recently trying to raise additional resources trying to come to the state, especially over the past few weeks as the landscape has changed,” Maher said on the call.

“And across the board I’m hearing from a lot of these larger organizations, from the [National Republican Senatorial Committee] to the [Republican Governors Association], that they’re really concerned that once the state structurally changes the way elections are run that they get concerned about whether or not to come in and invest — because it changes the population who votes and it makes it a lot harder to be able to anticipate who is actually voting. And that’s a difficult thing from their standpoint.

“In addition to that, there are concerns about fraud and that people don’t have to identify who they are to be able to get a ballot on the day of the election.”

Democrats, upon hearing Maher’s comments, were quick to respond.

“It’s a sad state of affairs when parties and candidates are afraid of more people voting,” said House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver. “Democracy is about hearing everyone’s voice, not just a select group’s.”

Maher, when questioned by FOX31 Denver Thursday afternoon, stood by her remarks.

“I own what I said,” she said. “The reality is the election is right around the corner and we don’t know who’s voting, we don’t know what’s going to happen related to fraud.

“I make a point of not saying anything in private I wouldn’t say in public. There are real concerns about fraud.”