Unfinished Business

Activists Fighting to Protect Voting Rights in Colorado

Colorado civil and human rights groups have been waging a spirited campaign against anti-voting activities led by hyper-partisan Secretary of State Scott Gessler, including efforts to restrict the distribution of ballots by county clerks and a campaign to purge voter rolls based on false and inflammatory charges about non-citizens influencing the outcome of elections.  You can hear from some of those activists in the Every Voter Counts video produced by The Leadership Conference Education Fund.

Gessler has repeatedly sounded false alarms about thousands of non-citizens he believes are wrongly registered to vote. And he has encouraged the efforts of True the Vote, which critics say is mounting a massive campaign of voter suppression and intimidation.

According to the Denver Post , Gessler asserted last year that there could be more than 11,000 noncitizens registered to vote in Colorado; he ended up finding only 141 suspected noncitizen voters — only 35 of whom had cast ballots. Just a few weeks before the election he’s still at it.   Gov. John Hickenlooper said recently that Gessler may be intimidating some Colorado voters, and said Gessler’s drive to purge supposedly illegal voters from the rolls “might be much ado about nothing.”

Earlier this month, county clerks complained about potential voting day problems and suggested Gessler’s time and energy have been misspent.  “We ask that your office spend less effort attempting to transfer blame to local officials and more time championing the strength, accessibility, accuracy and transparency of Colorado elections that serve our citizens so well,” the clerks wrote.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund is working closely with members of the Colorado Civic Engagement Roundtable, a collaboration that brings together a wide range of nonpartisan organizations  that are coordinating town halls, community canvassing, and poll monitor training across the state.  The Town Hall meetings are designed to educate and encourage voters.  Poll monitors are being trained to help voters who may be unfairly challenged by organized voter suppression efforts promoted by groups affiliated with True the Vote.

In fact the only evidence of real voter fraud in Colorado seems to involve an investigation by the district attorney into the actions of a former employee of Strategic Allied Consulting, which was paid millions this year by the Republican Party to register voters and is being investigated for fraudulent voter registration in Florida.