By Tori Richards | Colorado Watchdog
COLORADO SPRINGS – Democratic operatives in Colorado are training volunteers to turn away voter-registration applicants who seem likely to back Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
The evidence is part of a video shot by an undercover reporter working with journalist James O’Keefe in Organizing for America’s Colorado Springs office on Aug. 15. Organizing America is funded by the Democratic National Committee and geared toward reelecting Barack Obama.
The video comes after left-leaning media expressed outrage when video released a few weeks ago showed a young Republican woman seeking to register only Mitt Romney voters. That YouTube piece now has a pop-up ad asking voters to support Obama.
In the 26-second clip made available to Watchdog.org on Wednesday, a woman who works for Organizing for America instructs a voter-registration solicitor to avoid taking applications from Romney supporters.
“If they say no, like ‘No I’m not voting for Obama, I’m voting for Romney’ like ‘I hate Obama, he’s stupid,’ then you say ‘OK, great, thanks for your time’ and move on. Because then we avoid registering a Republican,” says a woman later identified only as Kate.
Christy Lelait, an official with the El Paso County Democrats, said on camera that workers do not engage in prescreening.
“I know for a fact that the campaign office is not going out and prescreening the people that they’re registering,” she says.
The video clearly shows something different.
Colorado Republican Party president Ryan Call said his workers are instructed to accept registrations from all voters, regardless of political party affiliation. He said he was dismayed by the hypocritical backlash to last month’s YouTube video because “the Democrats do this all the time.”
“It’s not illegal to say, ‘Are you going to vote for Obama,’” Call explained. “What is illegal is to refuse to register anyone who expresses an interest to vote or to turn in any forms that are returned to you.”
The Republican Party trains volunteers to ask a series of questions to determine the likelihood of a voter’s affiliation and then ask if they would like to register upon believing that they could be Republican.
“But we have it as a very explicit policy that anyone who wishes to register to vote that we let every Coloradoan do so,” he said. “We have no tolerance for anyone who would actively discourage someone from registering to vote.”
In contrast, he says the Democrats, the Obama campaign and its supporters “are always trying to create controversy and the appearance of hypocrisy by Republicans where there really is none.”
Colorado Democratic chairman Rick Palacio could not be reached for comment.
Contact Tori Richards at email@example.com