Scott Gessler's office shares evidence of voter fraud in Colorado
Secretary of State Scott Gessler has gotten a lot of attention for his effort to weed out illegal voters and frequent clashes with voter rights advocacy groups that complain he is devoting too much time to a wild goose chase.
Here, we take you behind the scenes at Gessler's office, where his staff have pages of documents that they say justify his efforts.
Through the county clerks, fourteen illegal voters have been removed from Colorado voting rolls, and Gessler's office recently ran checks on thousands more potential non-citizen voters; results on the latter are expected this week. The overall effort, Gessler says, is aimed at preventing voter fraud by removing individuals from the ballots who are not legally registered. And they have proof, his staff says, that voter fraud really exists in the state.
Gessler, a Republican, says he is dedicated to making it easy for people to vote and tough for them to cheat. In the latter effort, he says his office has worked to identify loopholes in the system and weed out non-citizen voters who, for a variety of reasons, may have taken advantage of the loopholes and could be illegally voting in November.
Sam Levin Scott Gessler promoting his registration ad campaign.
His critics, however, argue that while they don't oppose efforts to eliminate voter fraud, Gessler's priorities are all wrong. They believe his office is dedicating a lot of energy to removing a few voters, even when he is facing what they see as more serious problems with basic voter registration. Indeed, the harshest doubters fear that some of these efforts could actually suppress or intimidate new citizens from voting in the election, where the stakes are especially high in a key swing state like Colorado.
Gessler maintains that such claims are liberal, partisan attacks on his office, which has dedicated a lot of resources to a campaign encouraging voters across the state to register.
In an interview with us last week, he said, "These guys are as willfully ignorant as it gets. I have spent on this ad here $850,000. No one in the history of Colorado has ever done anything even close to that. They say I'm making it harder for people to register to vote. What I'm doing is encouraging people to register to vote.... What our office has done has been very successful."
To get a better look at why, at least according to Gessler's office, the effort to eliminate fraud is a worthy cause, his spokesman, Rich Coolidge, gave us a tour of the Statewide Voter Registration System, called SCORE, and showed us documents intended to prove the existence of illegal voters.
SCORE has voter information and records for individuals across the state -- including voter history. And in some cases, Coolidge says, that voter history exists for individuals who have on other forms said they are non-citizens. This, he says, is evidence of voter fraud.
It's difficult to go through all the records and tally up a total number of illegally registered voters who have actually voted, Coolidge says. But in the SCORE system, he shows us that through the archives, he can look up all cancelled voters who checked "non-citizen" as their reason for canceling. The total comes to 489 individuals, mostly from 2008 onward, who were registered but have since canceled their registration because they aren't citizens.
Additionally, there are nearly 20,000 records of voters who have withdrawn. Voters in that group, Coolidge says, could have withdrawn for any reason. They might have moved to a different state, or perhaps an individual withdrew a parent who can no longer vote. Or they could be a non-citizen.
"When people say how many non-citizens were on the rolls...there's a minimum of 489...but we have this pot of 20,000 [that could include non-citizen withdrawals]," he explains.
Continue for documents from Gessler's office and response from the ACLU.