Proof of voters’ citizenship bill advances

The Colorado House gave preliminary approval to a bill Thursday to give Secretary of State Scott Gessler the authority to do what he says he’s already done — check to see if noncitizens have registered to vote.

Gessler told legislative and federal officials in recent weeks that at least 106 Colorado voters who cast a ballot in last fall’s elections shouldn’t have.

But the Republican declined to make public those names, including telling state lawmakers and county clerks who they are.

“The record including names and addresses does not exist,” Gessler’s spokesman, Richard Coolidge, wrote in an email response to a Colorado Open Records Act submitted by The Daily Sentinel seeking the information.

Coolidge said the bill is needed to ensure Gessler has clear authority to check and release those names.

“We’re continuing to work to identify the best method to move forward to get this data to the clerks,” he wrote. “HB1252 provides a statewide legal framework for us to collect and verify information related to citizenship.”

Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner said she has been frustrated with the matter since Gessler announced earlier this month there were noncitizens voting somewhere in the state.

“I bounced right back to his elections director and said, ‘Show me the data,’ ” Reiner said. “How can you make a match between two records and not have a name on them?”

Reiner said if she or any clerk in the state had those names, the law already allows them to individually verify if they are eligible to vote, and remove them from the rolls if they’re not.

Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, and other Democrats said Gessler is basing his information on computer databases that don’t determine if someone is a citizen, and the bill he wants the Legislature to pass won’t solve that problem.

“It’s based on supposition, it’s based on conjecture,” Levy said. “The support for this bill is flimsy at best.”

Republicans said even if the number of noncitizens registered to vote is only one, it’s worth the effort to find that person.

“We do need to protect the voting franchise,” said Rep. David Balmer, R-Centennial. “It needs to be reserved to United States citizens.”

Although Reiner said the law already allows it, the bill gives voters 90 days to submit documents to show they are eligible to vote if Gessler believes they are not.


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