Race Card? Who's Really Playing Games With Voters?

Oct 07, 2011 | Updated Dec 07, 2011

Playing the race card?

Secretary of State Scott Gessler recently stated that he was "disappointed that some have played the race card" in response to his decision to sue Denver's Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson for mailing ballots to legally registered voters who missed the election.

During last spring's municipal election, then-Clerk & Recorder Stephanie O'Malley sent ballots to similarly registered voters. It's these registered voters -- deemed inactive because they missed ONE recent general election -- that Gessler now demands are ineligible to receive a mail-in ballot.

It is simply a fact that the lawsuit would impact minorities at a higher rate than anyone else. That is the reality of the situation -- not a "card" that has been played. It is outrageous to accuse those who raise the fact that Gessler's actions will disproportionately affect people of color as having less than legitimate motivations.

This is not about politics; it's about the numbers. And the math doesn't lie.

In one regard, Gessler is correct: this debate should not break down along the lines of race and ethnicity because so many other people are likely to be disenfranchised.

Perhaps Gessler would prefer his opponents use the "senior card" to describe the lawsuit's impact. After all, almost 25 percent of inactive voters who participated in the municipal election were over the age of 50.

Or maybe he would prefer the addition of the "sick and poor card." Gessler suggests that it only takes a couple of clicks on his website for people to update their registration. For those who have Internet access, the Secretary of State's website is less than user-friendly and requires more than a few clicks. And unfortunately, the digital divide continues to exist in low-income Denver neighborhoods, where a lot of people quite simply don't have access to the Internet.

Even a cursory analysis of his actions indicates that it hurts far more than just minority populations. His inference that his opponents are playing the "race card" drives a wedge between Anglo and minority voters, as if minorities hope to play by a different set of rules. To be blunt, legally registered voters -- no matter their background -- should be guaranteed their right to vote without additional obstacles. And the Secretary of State should be opening avenues to the ballot box rather than providing legal challenges.