Scott Gessler: Officials probably didn't catch all fraudulent voters before election
After generating months of headlines and backlash from voter rights' groups, Secretary of State Gessler's anti-fraud initiative resulted in 44 individuals being removed from the voter rolls in the state.
But Gessler, in an election day interview, told us he wishes he could've done more and that it's likely fraudulent voters cast ballots in Colorado, despite efforts to prevent it.
Gessler has been working since August to clean up the voter rolls and prevent fraud come election day, specifically focused on identifying and removing immigrants illegally registered to vote. With help from a federal program that maintains immigration records, Gessler found a total of 441 alleged non-citizens who were signed up to vote.
As of last Friday, just a few days before election day, Gessler's office had removed a total of 44 voters from that list of 441, after names were shared with county clerks and letters sent directly to those individuals asking that they prove their citizenship or withdraw their voter registration.
Sam Levin Scott Gessler on election day.
He and his staff had hoped that they would have had more time to try and remove fraudulent voters, but because they were only able to access federal data starting late in August, they couldn't launch formal challenges that would produce results prior to election day.
So, from Gessler's perspective, that means there is a pretty good chance some registered voters committed fraud when they cast their ballots in Colorado this week.
His critics argue that the records he is relying on are not always up-to-date and that it's possible a new citizen would be flagged under his checks. If citizens sent in proof of citizenship or if the county clerks did their own checks and determined they are citizens, then the voters remained on the rolls and could cast ballots -- and a majority of those targeted likely fell into this category, given that thousands of names were cross-checked with the federal information.
But Gessler's office doesn't believe this process has been thorough enough or that it would stop all illegal voters. While Gessler has said the data is not perfect, he and his staff believe most of those who categorized as immigrants in the federal government's database are still immigrants today. And that means illegal votes might be counted, since so many who were flagged remained on the rolls.
Of the 441, 82 have voted in past elections. Of the 44 removed, seven have voted.
"I'm under the assumption that there will be some people who vote who shouldn't," Gessler said. "The work we've done shows there's a vulnerability. The work we've done shows that we've not been able to do...a thorough review of Colorado's rolls. And the partial review that we have done shows that there is a problem out there. So I'm assuming some people will likely vote who are ineligible to vote and those will be illegal votes."
Continue to read more of our interview with Scott Gessler.