Last week I received an email that reaffirmed how deeply entrenched Colorado Republicans have become in the conspiracy theory-laden swamp created by President Donald Trump and his adherents over the past four years.
The email announced the Jefferson County Republican Party’s decision to refuse to certify the 2020 General Election.
Titled “Jeffco Republicans Refuses to Certify Jeffco Election Results” – even the grammar needs a bit of work – the announcement has neither a practical effect nor a basis in fact or law. Instead, it as a Chamberlain-esque appeasement to what I have dubbed the Dunce State, a vocal segment of the Republican Party that wallows in unfounded allegations and now dictates much of the GOP’s downward trajectory.
First and foremost, the announcement has zero practical effect. The Jefferson County Canvassing Board has already certified the results. Having served on this board before, I can say that the process is mundane and generally free from any serious controversy.
This year, it appears that two of the five members decided not to certify the results. No prize for guessing which party those two represent.
Second, the allegations in the Jeffco GOP’s news release and attached “minority report” cite no specific factual basis for its requests. Instead, they are grounded in generalized “concerns” about software used during the election and unspecified “dramatic statistical results.” Such naked allegations have been the hallmark legal challenges brought – and almost universally lost – by Trump’s post-election legal team.
To give credit where it is due, the JeffCo GOP did not go full Sidney Powell, either. Powell is the attorney whose conspiracy theories were so implausible that even Trump disowned her. Powell is now suing Michigan to overturn the state’s recent certification of Joe Biden’s 154,000-vote victory and declare Trump the winner.
In contrast, Jeffco GOP Chair Denise Mund went out of her way to clarify that the party did not allege any fraud. She also thanked the Jeffco Clerk’s Office for its transparency and availability.
Nonetheless, the request is deleterious to our democratic system of government.
Not only does the request lend credence to Dunce State conspiracies, but it encourages others to follow. In this case, the Adams County Republican Party followed up with its own decision to oppose certification the very next day. And the Adams County leadership are not nearly as shy about alleging fraud based on a “gut feeling.”
That is the danger with such action. It may be the spark that lights a fuse that eventually blows up in the party’s face.
And in this case, it makes the party look ignorant in the process. The State of Colorado already has extensive rules regulating voting systems. Not only must Colorado county clerks run pre-election hardware diagnostic tests, but they must perform “logic and accuracy” tests before a testing board with representatives from each major political party.
Unless the Jeffco GOP just chose not to participate pre-election, they already engaged in the process intended to waylay the amorphous concerns at the heart of their request.
Similarly, the Jeffco Clerk’s Office has already engaged in audits of both the 2018 and 2020 elections. George Stern, the Jeffco clerk and recorder, even recorded an informative YouTube video explaining the process in February.
I understand that Republicans, including those in Jefferson County, feel bitter about Trump’s loss. But sowing doubt in our electoral process is akin to salting soil for producing a below average harvest. In the end it destroys every benefit that could be reaped in the future.
On Dec. 14, the Electoral College will convene, cast ballots and confirm President-elect Biden as the winner. Even Trump has recently acquiesced to that outcome, even while continuing to rely on his alternative claims of “massive fraud.”
Under these circumstances the actions of the Jeffco GOP become even more tenuous. It is precisely the type of action that will keep them swirling around and down until they have been entirely flushed from the county and state.
Mario Nicolais is an attorney and columnist who writes on law enforcement, the legal system, health care and public policy. Follow him on Twitter: @MarioNicolaiEsq