Paul Jacob

“The New Year starts us off with another huge victory,” announced an email to supporters from Jon Caldara, president of Colorado’s Independence Institute. “I’m not going to jail!”

Adding, “Well . . . at least I’m not going to jail for voting.”

Or, more specifically, for voter fraud.

That’s the term Colorado Democrats hurled at the brash conservative think-tank leader, urging a probe by El Paso and Boulder Counties and the Attorney General’s office to potentially charge Mr. Caldara with a felony.

That investigation concluded last week, when the Colorado Attorney General’s office informed Caldara that he would not be criminally charged, as such a prosecution was “not warranted or viable.”

Nonetheless, just three days prior to last year’s historic recall election in which voters tossed Senate President John Morse out of office over the gun control legislation Morse had pushed through the state legislature, Caldara did, indeed, move his official residence from the home he shares with his two kids in Boulder to an apartment in Colorado Springs, where he could and did cast a ballot in that recall election.

Soon afterwards, Caldara — apparently not sufficiently wowed by his newfound Colorado Springs community — moved his legal residence back to his Boulder home.

Sounds like voter fraud, no?

No. The whole purpose of Mr. Caldara’s very public vote was to show that the election legislation passed by the Democrat-controlled legislature and signed into law by Democrat Governor John Hickenlooper facilitated what would otherwise most certainly be considered fraudulent voting.

Note that the recall ballot he cast, legally, he also purposely left blank. As he told reporters at the time, “The point was not to be that last vote for Morse — as delicious as that might be — the purpose is to show how easy it is under the new law to move voters from district to district.”

Caldara’s reading of the new law has now been confirmed to a significant extent by the Rocky Mountain State’s law enforcement officialdom’s real-world reflections and recent decision not to prosecute him. Thus, a Colorado citizen can legally change his or her residence, at least as voting is concerned, up to and including on election day, if the citizen “intends” to move to the new political jurisdiction he or she wishes to cast a vote in.

And who but the citizen would know that “intention”?

“The winner of future elections in Colorado will be the campaign that has the most buses,” Caldara warns. He fears a massive migration of voters from safe to swing districts, just for the election, and implores the legislature to re-visit the law in the session just commenced.

Whether the busloads of Jon Caldara’s nightmares materialize or just a few dozen taxis might be able to handle the flow, fraud isn’t good and doesn’t warrant a legal boost. The state’s election law needs to be addressed, improved.

The problem is that politicians cannot be trusted. Period. Not Colorado’s Democrats and not any state’s Red team, either. And they especially cannot be trusted with writing the rules governing their own campaigns and elections.

That’s the very definition of a conflict of interest.

Luckily, Colorado has a statewide initiative and referendum process whereby voters can address the issue. Not through a cumbersome, detailed re-write of the election code, which would hardly appeal to voters, but by establishing one simple fair and non-partisan rule: no future election law would go into effect until approved by a vote of the people of Colorado.

Such a policy would allow voters to block the worst partisan schemes so regularly being barnacled onto our election codes. Best of all, voters would be encouraged to understand that these are their elections. They don’t belong to the politicians or the political parties.

There is no perfect system, of course. The voters make mistakes, too.

But not on purpose.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.