Scott Gessler grilled at Capitol about immigrant letters, website glitches

Categories: News, Politics

In his lengthy presentation, Gessler read off testimonials from random Coloradans about how some of the Secretary of State's initiatives have helped them -- nonprofit leaders happy with fee reductions, voters pleased with the ease of casting ballots from abroad and more.

Scott Gessler, food truck 1.jpeg
Sam Levin
Scott Gessler promoting voter registration in the fall.

Of note, Gessler said that he has been in regular contact with Denver County Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson, who he had sued over her efforts to mail ballots to voters who skipped the last election and were thus labeled as "inactive." It's one of the debates that has earned Gessler criticisms that he is working to suppress legitimate voters. Gessler told the committee he has been discussing a middle-ground solution to this problem and that lawmakers can expect a bill related to this problem later this session.

He also said in efforts to identify voters who cast ballots across state lines, that his office has found multiple voters in Kansas and Arizona and is investigating leads in other states as well.

In addition to further questioning about website glitches, Gessler spent a large part of the follow-up questions after his presentation responding to criticisms around his non-citizen efforts, which we outlined in detail in print.

In short, he has worked to prevent fraud by finding non-citizens illegally on the voter rolls through cross-checks with databases -- and while his efforts have resulted in hundreds of immigrants being removed from the voter rolls, many more that he flagged were ultimately found to be legal citizens.

Gessler briefly discussed the first bill he is pushing this session, which we reported on last week and would give his office direct access to remove non-citizens.

Representative Joe Salazar went after Gessler for using questionable immigration data. "You use a program that is inherently unreliable," Salazar said, asking how that preserves election integrity. "Can you explain that paradox?"

"To be sure, no database is perfect," Gessler said in response, but added that the federal records he has referenced for the project are used in every state across the country in many different ways.

"It was not a threatening letter," he also said in response to another question about possible negative impacts of his efforts to ask non-citizens to remove themselves from the rolls.

For the most part, Gessler didn't say anything new in response to accusations of intimidating legal voters, but when asked what kind of resources his office has devoted to finding non-citizens, he, for the first time, gave a specific answer. (In the past, and when we asked him this question for our print feature, he said he couldn't offer a dollar figure).

The total amount spent on the entire "non-citizens project," he said, was around $8,000.

Continue for the full prepared remarks and documents presented at the briefing.

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