Elections chief uncovers 106 noncitizen voters
At least 106 people who were not U.S. citizens when they registered to vote remain on Colorado’s voter rolls, state elections officials said.
That number could exceed 11,000, the state’s top election official said.
Exactly who those 106 voters are, however, isn’t known, officials said, acknowledging they need more information.
Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner said she wished she and other local officials had been consulted before Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s announcement Tuesday.
“I’m not aware of any substantial data that provide us with an actual problem,” Reiner said, noting she was aware Gessler campaigned for office saying there should be more strict requirements for proof of citizenship to vote.
Reiner said she wants the Secretary of State’s Office to provide her with the names of the noncitizens in Mesa County, so she can take appropriate action.
“We take this allegation very seriously and will continue to press the state to provide us with the names of the 106 voters the secretary of state is nearly certain are improperly registered to vote,” Reiner said in a statement. “It troubles me that the clerks were not consulted in this data comparison.”
Reiner was told by the Secretary of State’s Office it might be able to provide her with a list of 11,805 driver’s licenses issued to noncitizens, “which I could compare to the (voter) rolls on file and determine if this is an issue,” she said. “I certainly want to.”
A comparison of data from the Department of Revenue and the state’s voter-registration system showed thousands of potential matches of noncitizens on the state’s voter rolls, Gessler said.
“Fact is, my office has every reason to believe that thousands of noncitizens are registered to vote in Colorado,” Gessler said during a news conference in which he said he wants to compare voter rolls with other state and federal databases. A Gessler-backed measure, H.B. 1252, by Parker Republican Rep. Chris Holbert, would allow that.
The state elections office has been focused on the study and the bill and had not discussed either with clerks, spokesman Rich Coolidge said, adding he hopes clerks will support Holbert’s measure.
“I acknowledge that there could be a loophole” in which someone who is not a citizen could be registered as a voter, Reiner said.
Local elections officials already compare registrations with data from the Department of Revenue and the Social Security database and inquire further when issues arise, Reiner said.
State officials found 106 voters when they compared the state databases and found those voters had offered data that identified them as legal residents, but not as citizens at the time they registered to vote, Coolidge said.
The legislation will allow state elections officials to write to those people and learn more about their status, he said.
The legislation also would allow state elections officials to compare the voter rolls with databases such as jury lists or other federal databases that show lawful presence versus citizenship.
Evidence suggesting a lack of citizenship would prompt officials to request proof of citizenship.
If no proof was presented after 90 days, these voters would remain on the rolls with an incomplete status.
The measure is to receive its first hearing today before the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.