Colorado Springs, Elections, Featured, Politics, Wayne Laugesen

Daily Show's Morse recall bit shows Caldara's point on bad election law

As the left continues calling for Jon Caldara’s arrest, because he cast a ballot in the recall of Senate President John Morse, another famous Jon should defend Caldara – none less than Comedy Central’s brilliant and hilarious Jon Stewart.

Caldara, president of Colorado’s Independence Institute, caused scandal among Morse supporters by turning in a blank ballot for the Sept. 10 election that made Morse the first recalled state politician in Colorado history. Caldara lives in Boulder but argued how a new same-day voter registration law, co-sponsored and championed by Morse, created legal opportunity for anyone in Colorado to vote in the recall and other local elections.

The law does, in fact, allow someone to vote in a jurisdiction with nothing more than “intention” to move there and make it a permanent home. So, Caldara moved in with a friend, paid rent and signed a lease a day before casting his ballot. He expressed intent to make the district a permanent home and then, shockingly, changed his mind and returned to Boulder a few days after the recall. Supporters of the new law, and of Morse, remain outraged.

Meanwhile, it appears Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” hosted by Stewart, supports Caldara’s right to vote. While we dislike Colorado’s new voting law, we support Stewart’s apparent opposition to voter suppression.

The show Monday featured a satirical and hysterically funny five-minute segment about the recall, in which correspondent Jason Jones interviewed Morse near the ex-senator’s Denver home. The defrocked politician, who quickly abandoned his Colorado Springs apartment after the recall, explained he had done nothing more than pass gun restrictions with popular support in opinion polls.

To underscore how Coloradans support the laws, Jones conducted person-on-the-street interviews. All but one interviewee supported the substance of laws that led to the senator’s downfall.

After eliciting support for Morse, Jones asked each whether he or she voted in the recall. All but one said “no.” The answers, along with commentary by political strategist Jim Spencer, left viewers wondering why these supporters did not show up to vote for Morse.

Jones: “Let’s say there was a politician who was being recalled for enacting very level-headed gun safety legislation. Would you vote to save him?”

Woman on street: “Yes.”

Jones: “Did you vote to save him?”

Woman: “No,” she said, snickering.

Jones then presented the same question to a random man.

Man: “I haven’t voted yet, no,” the man said, of an election two months in the past.

Another man on the street said he would support Morse: “It’s just common sense,” he said.

Jones: “So if it’s just common sense, you would vote in the recall election?”

Man: “Absolutely.”

Jones: “Did you?”

Man: “I did not.” Long uncomfortable pause. “Yep.”

Scandalous. They would have saved Morse, but they didn’t bother to vote. After the interviews, the show returned to Morse complaining about it.

All of these interviews were conducted on Denver’s 16th Street Mall, where one would be hard-pressed to find a resident of District 11 – a sliver of Colorado Springs 60 miles south. Different city, different demographic, vastly different political climate.

So, we make a faith-based leap of logic. This is satire, after all. Jones, Stewart and Morse believe people of Denver have a new right, enacted by Morse, to vote in District 11.

Jon Stewart, meet your new best friend – Colorado’s Jon Caldara, enemy of voter suppression.

Wayne Laugesen is editorial page editor at the Colorado Springs Gazette, where this op-ed first appeared.


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