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CO: Push to find illegal voters doesn’t pan out

By   /   August 30, 2012  /   No Comments

By Tori Richards | Colorado Watchdog

DENVER — A move by Colorado’s secretary of state to purge thousands of suspected noncitizens from the state’s voter database fell flat when he could prove that only one in eight were ineligible voters.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler released the results today of a letter-writing campaign to 3,903 registered voters suspected of being noncitizens because of data supplied by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

A search for illegal voters has not turned up large results

“Each of these residents helps improve the integrity of our voter rolls and increases voter confidence across the state,” Gessler said in a statement. “While some prefer to fan partisan flames and score political points, these residents share an interest in ensuring only eligible voters are casting ballots.”

Of the 3,903 voters, Gessler verified 1,416 voters who had an alien identification number on file with the DMV. The system identified 177 voters who require additional verification from the federal government to confirm their citizenship status. Further checks of that group revealed one in eight remain non-citizens and ineligible to vote.

The results also revealed that 1,011 voters moved with no forwarding address, 482 had affirmed their citizenship and 16 voluntarily withdrew their registrations.

Gessler has not said what would happen to the confirmed illegal voters or the more than 1,000 people who never bothered to respond to the letter. Other states have dropped suspected illegal voters without sending notices.

The majority of the people who received letters are either with the Democratic Party or unaffiliated, causing members of the left to accuse the Republican Gessler of creating a firestorm for political reasons.

“This is a witch hunt and you should be embarrassed that you are going down this road,” Democratic Party attorney Martha Tierney was reported as saying by CBS Denver.

Samantha Meiring, a South African national who became a U.S. citizen two years ago, received a letter, CBS reported.

“I find it absolutely ridiculous that a U.S. citizen is being asked to jump through additional hoops to exercise a right to vote,” she said.

The chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party could not be reached for comment.

Tori Richards can be reached at tori@coloradowatchdog.org.

 

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Tori Richards is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated reporter who has covered some of the biggest news in the world during her 25 years in the business. She has also won a dozen national and local writing awards for her coverage of the judicial system. Richards has worked for CBS News, Bloomberg, Reuters. Agence-France Presse, the NY Post, the NY Times and The Daily among others. Her work has also appeared on CNN.com, FoxNews.com and US News & World Report. Some of her biggest stories included the cases of OJ Simpson, Michael Jackson, the Aryan Brotherhood and the Night Stalker.

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