Republican Rachel Stovall, who’s running for the state Legislature in El Paso County, answered a conservative Christian voter guide questionnaire by casting doubt on Colorado’s universal mail-in ballot system, saying, “It creates a real risk for fraud.”
Stovall’s concerns about voting via mail ballots, however, apparently don’t apply to casting her own vote.
A spokesperson for the El Paso County Clerk’s office confirmed that Stovall has voted with her mail ballot in every election from 2015 through this year’s Republican primary in June.
Her statement against using mail ballots appeared in the Church Voter Guide, a nonpartisan voter guide project by Colorado Springs pastor Chaim Goldman, which offers political guidance to Christian voters with a conservative Biblical worldview.
The second half of Stovall’s answer to the guide’s question about “Election Reform” makes it clear where she stands (or at least stood) on the use of absentee ballots.
“Early voting and Election Day should be it,” stated Stovall’s answer in the guide. “Absentee ballots for military and those who can show (through reservations, surgery dates, disabled, hospitalized, etc.) that they cannot vote those days should be able to vote absentee.
“I am concerned with mail in ballots for everyone because it creates a real risk for fraud.”
Reached by phone, Stovall said “every election process we have just needs to be examined for best practices. When you have this many people who are worried about the process, that it should be looked at, and needs a thorough audit and then you give a report to the people so that their fears can be alleviated.”
After hearing her statement about mail-in ballots creating a “real risk of fraud” read back to her she said, “I’m fine with the procedures we have. What I wrote was meant to be an affirmation of that.”
Asked directly if she now doesn’t think mail-in ballots carry a risk for fraud, Stovall replied, “They can. Which is why it has to be looked at so that people can see whether that fear or risk is really a thing. I think that people who are concerned deserve to have their concerns addressed.”
She then claimed that her statement to the Church Voter Guide “may have been edited differently than what my intent was.”
In a subsequent Facebook message, Stovall says she isn’t an election denier and again said the Church Voter Guide may have edited part of her answer.
“All I have tried to do was empathize with citizens that read the Church Voter Guide and have concerns about the election process and advocate for reports and audits to be done that alleviate those concerns,” she said. “We cannot know if there are real problems with mail-in ballots without examining the process. I am hardly an election denier of any kind and will not stand for being presented as such! I read what is in the Church Voter Guide and feel like there was an issue with the editing. There is one sentence that doesn’t make sense at all and I’m not sure what happened. So I’ll attend to that.”
Stovall did not clarify which part of her answer she thinks doesn’t make sense and may have been edited, but according to Church Voter Guides founder Chaim Goldman, he does not edit candidates’ statements at all. In a video posted three weeks ago, Goldman explains that as part of ensuring the guide is compliant with the Internal Revenue Service’s rules for 501(c)3 nonpartisan groups, “we survey all of the candidates, ask them open-ended questions and whatever they give you back you publish it you don’t have any opinion, you don’t even edit it if they are typos.”
Transcript from the Church Voter Guide:
Do you believe that elections in Colorado should be conducted differently? Should voters in Colorado be required to verify their identity and residential status in the respective counties in which they vote? Are you in favor of a single-day, in-person voting system consisting of all-paper ballots? Why or why not?
Verification of both identity and residential status with a photo ID is fair and should be implemented everywhere in Colorado. I do believe these verification steps should be conducted within the respective counties in which voters vote.
Poll watchers and election judges are the best line of defense against irregularities. Election judges are in the ballot counting areas, watching and verifying the ballot count. Early voting and Election Day should be it. Absentee ballots for military and those who can show (through reservations, surgery dates, disabled, hospitalized, etc.) that they cannot vote those days should be able to vote absentee.
I am concerned with mail in ballots for everyone because it creates a real risk for fraud.