By Troy Anderson | Colorado Watchdog
DENVER — Amid mounting concerns nationwide regarding voter fraud, a ColoradoWatchdog.org analysis found Colorado is one of the most problematic states with large numbers of inactive voters, “dirty” voter registration rolls and other problems.
Considered one of the swing states where the U.S. presidential election will be decided next month, Colorado has an inordinately high number of inactive voters, according to the analysis.
“Colorado is among 12 states that have significant numbers of individuals on the rolls that ought not to be there,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a nonprofit government open records advocate. “In Colorado, a fifth of the election rolls are composed of voters who ought not to be on the list. When you have lists as dirty as the ones in Colorado, it provides opportunities for fraud. There is no doubt about it.”
Of the state’s 3.4 million registered voters, 1.2 million are considered inactive, providing an “opportunity for voter fraud,” said Earl Glynn, a special projects coordinator and researcher at the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, who conducted the analysis.
The analysis found 31,655 Colorado voters last cast a ballot in 2000 or before. That number rises to 265,680 when looking at 2006 or before.
And 592,292 voters show no voting history at all. Of those, 10,492 registered to vote in 2000, 121,569 in 2006 or before and 189,878 in 2011 or this year, and have not yet voted in a congressional or presidential election.
“There is always the potential for voter fraud,” Glynn said. “I like to use the word potential. If there is a name on the voter roll that could be borrowed by a corrupt official, that is an opportunity for fraud. When you can borrow a name on the list and it’s been there a long time, it will be very hard to prove anything one way or the other.”
To commit voter fraud, Glynn said that all unscrupulous individuals would have to do is obtain copies of publicly available voter registration lists, look for inactive voters and show up at the polls to cast ballots as those people.
“I made a statement (in Kansas) that I could vote all day long and be immune from prosecution,” Glynn said. “I know how the system works and how to find people who aren’t going to be at the polls. It would only be some weird chance I would run into someone I knew. In urban areas, the election workers really don’t know the people coming in. With these lists being open record, anybody can buy the list and study it.”
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office did not return calls for comment.
But Tony Robinson, an associate professor and chairman of the political science department at the University of Colorado Denver, disputed the analysis, arguing that a large number of inactive voters “means very little.”
“It’s absolutely completely unlikely, or almost impossible, to engage in the kind of voter fraud (Glynn) is concerned with,” Robinson said. “The idea that someone would acquire the rolls and organize tens of thousands of people to illegally show up at precincts across the state and then vote is just impractical and doesn’t happen.”
In addition to a large number of inactive voters, Colorado is also one of several states with large numbers of counties where more than 100 percent of the eligible population is registered to vote, Fitton said after reviewing the Franklin Center data.
“If people have moved away and are registered in that state and another state, it provides an opportunity for double voting,” Fitton said.
Logan Churchwell, spokesman for True the Vote, a nonprofit, nonpartisan election integrity watchdog organization based in Houston, said more than 100 percent of the eligible population in 10 counties in Colorado is registered to vote.
“We’re seeing instances where some counties had 130 percent voter registration, 113 percent voter registration and 108 percent voter registration,” Churchwell said. “Usually, whenever you see more than 105 percent, you’ve got a pretty bad problem in terms of maintaining your rolls. Federal law says every jurisdiction that maintains voter rolls has to put in place a reasonable effort to keep dead, felon and ineligible voters off the rolls.”
This is especially an issue in Colorado, which doesn’t require photo identification to vote.
“Any time you have over 100 percent voter registration, it just demonstrates that the records are not being properly maintained,” Churchwell said. “If you don’t have photo identification laws in the state, the likelihood of someone impersonating a dead person is increased.”
The ColoradoWatchdog.org analysis comes amid growing concerns about possible widespread voter fraud in the November election.
In February, Judicial Watch announced the launch of its 2012 Election Integrity Project to pressure states and localities, through lawsuits if necessary, to clean up voter registration rolls as required by the National Voter Registration Act.
A Judicial Watch investigation found voter rolls in Colorado and many other states contain the names of individuals who are ineligible to vote. The investigation also found there were more individuals on voter registration lists in these states than there are individuals eligible to vote, including individuals who are dead.
“Election fraud was a significant concern during the 2008 and 2010 election seasons, with ACORN/Project Vote being linked to massive voter registration fraud,” according to a Judicial Watch statement. “A total of 70 ACORN employees in 12 states have been convicted of voter registration fraud. As documented in a July 2009 report by the House Committee on Oversight and Governmental Reform, of the 1.3 million registrations Project Vote/ACORN submitted in the 2008 election cycle, more than one-third were invalid.”
Judicial Watch, according to the statement, has uncovered documents showing that, rather than taking action to enforce Section 8 of the NVRA, the U.S. Department of Justice is working with ACORN-front Project Vote, President Barack Obama’s former employer, to push for strict enforcement of Section 7 of the NVRA relating to welfare office voter registration obligations.
The purpose of this campaign, according to the statement, is evidently to use voter registration laws to register greater numbers of low-income voters, widely considered to be an important voting demographic for the Obama presidential campaign.
“For example, a separate Judicial Watch investigation found that the percentage of invalid voter registration forms in Colorado public assistance agencies was four times the national average after Project Vote successfully forced the state to implement new policies for increasing the registration of public assistance recipients during the 2008 and 2010 election seasons,” according to the statement.
The Judicial Watch campaign came the same month as The Pew Center on the States released a report finding the nation’s registration rolls are plagued with errors.
The report found 24 million — or one in every eight — voter registrations in the U.S. are no longer valid or significantly inaccurate, more than 1.8 million dead people are listed as voters and 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.
“The study found millions of voter registration records nationwide that are either inaccurate or no longer valid,” the authors of the Pew report wrote. “These were identified based on data indicating a voter died, moved, or had been inactive from 2004 to March 2011.”
Glynn said the potential for voter fraud in Colorado is higher than in many states because it has such a high rate of inactive voters. This, Glynn said, is due to the fact that Colorado has a different definition of inactive voters.
“In Colorado, if you don’t respond to (mailed requests) from election officials, they put you on inactive status,” Glynn says. “Because of that, the number of inactive voters in Colorado is much higher than in many other states. And any time you have these lists of inactive voters who are not going to show up to vote, that is actually an opportunity for voter fraud.”
Fitton said it’s incumbent on the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office to clean up the voter registration rolls as quickly as possible.
“There are things they can do between now and the election and things they can do over the medium term as well,” Fitton said. “We have alerted our folks and True the Vote has alerted Colorado as well.”
For a comparison of registered voter counts to the U.S. Census voting age population in Colorado, click here.
Contact Troy Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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