Scott Gessler's latest non-citizen check nets five Denverites, zero actual voters
Last week, Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced the results from his second round of checks to remove illegal voters from the state's rolls. His office says 300 alleged non-citizens are registered to vote throughout the state in addition to the 141 flagged in September. Since these names were sent to Denver, the state's largest county, just five registrations have been canceled. None of them have voted, and their presence on the rolls appears to be as a result of a clerical error.
Gessler's controversial effort to remove non-citizens from the voter rolls and prevent fraud on election day has been earning headlines since August, when he first sent letters to thousands of registered voters asking them to prove they are citizens or otherwise remove themselves from voter rolls. His critics say that this amounts to voter intimidation; they feel he is wasting resources on what is essentially a non-issue. Some say Gessler, a Republican, is actively trying to block non-Republicans from voting in the tight Colorado race.
But Gessler says he has remained focused on registering a record number of voters in the state. He stresses that he's simply trying to prevent fraud and cheating and make the elections as fair and as clean as possible.
Sam Levin Democratic officials voting in the Denver Elections Division last week as part of an early vote press conference.
With that goal, he has identified individuals who have at some point shown a form of identification, like a green card, to the Division of Motor Vehicles. Gessler's office also cross-checked those names with a federal Department of Homeland Security database of immigration records. His first round of the federal checks flagged 141 alleged non-citizens, leading to the removal of fourteen total across the state , none of whom had voted. The second round found 300 more, bringing the total to 441.
This amounts to a serious problem, highlighting the fact that there are loopholes allowing hundreds of non-citizens to sign up to vote, Gessler's office says. Of the 441 who have received letters and whose names has been sent to county clerks with instructions and recommendations on how to challenge them, 82 have voted in past elections, his representatives maintain. If those people were undocumented immigrants, their votes would be fraudulent.
Gessler and his staff have repeatedly told us they are confident most of these voters are non-citizens, since the federal database has them listed as such. His critics, however, say the Department of Homeland Security information can be inaccurate or very out of date, as was the case with one voter we spoke to last week. He has been a legal citizen since 2001 but still received the latest warning letter from Gessler's office, because he shows up as an immigrant in the federal database.
One way to better understand what the actual impact of Gessler's actions has been and will be in the final week of the race is to look at the consequences in the state's largest county. As we reported in September, Gessler's first round of checks resulted in four voters being removed from Denver's rolls. The Denver county clerk's office says the reasons can be traced to what were essentially data entry errors, and the rest of the 42 flagged names check out. Gessler's office, however, says the county clerks have no dependable way to actually verify that these voters are citizens other than relying on the fact that they've checked the box and said they are.
In this second round, Amber McReynolds, director of elections for Denver, tells us that 46 new names were sent her way from Gessler's office. The Secretary of State's figures show 96 Denver voters in the two rounds total, with thirteen of them having voted in past elections.
McReynolds says her staffers investigated the names sent her way and found one had already been canceled -- so it probably shouldn't have been on the list in the first place. Additionally, five more needed to be removed. These five voters, who have no history of voting in the state, were canceled for the same reason as the first four -- essentially clerical errors within the county clerk's office, she says.
"They were data entries and they have now been canceled," she says.
Continue for more details on the canceled voters and response from Gessler's office.