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Are all Colorado voters also citizens?

Posted by Kelly Maher on January 27th, 2011
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The first of two voter integrity bills that we’ve told you about died in the Senate Committee on State Affairs on Wednesday (yep, that’s the same committee that Senator Shawn Mitchell referred to as “killer’s row”). Though Secretary of State Scott Gessler told us several months ago (before he took office) that he didn’t think it would get out of the Senate, what was surprising was the number of people who showed up to testify in favor of the bill. As promise, Gessler came to testify, and in doing so took time at the beginning of his remarks to quantify the scope of the issue for committee members:

“I do believe there’s a vulnerability in our system and I’m here because I’d like to testify about the problems that I think exist in Colorado. What the Secretary of State’s office recently did is we compared the DMV - the motor vehicle database - to the voter rolls.”

“So we looked at the database and we found that people who are in the DMV database but also on the voter rolls, there are about 12,000 - almost 13,000 - who were naturalized citizens, they provide naturalized citizen’s information. There were about 1,600 who were temporary residents in Colorado, when they got their Driver’s License but they were also on the voter rolls. There are about 13,000 who are resident aliens and about 1,300 - almost 1,400 - who fit within the INS arrival/departure record. So in other words, currently today we’ve identified 16,270 people who are in the Driver’s License database as non-citizens and also on Colorado voter rolls.”

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez (whom I once worked for) won his Congressional seat in 2002 by 121 votes, less than a third of a vote per precinct. Numbers like the ones put forth by Gessler could make or break elections, and in many cases the majorities in a given chamber.

Of the two voter integrity bills, one is still in the works. A bill by state Reps. Ken Summers, R-Lakewood, and Libby Szabo, R-Arvada, would eliminate the provision in statute that allowed me (or anyone) to vote by showing a utility bill as identification. It’s currently scheduled for its first committee hearing on Wednesday, February 2nd at 1:30pm.

[Updated 1/28/11]

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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kelly Maher
    Kelly, a co-founder of WhoSaidYouSaid, brings more than 10 years of campaign and policy work experience. In addition to her skills in grassroots activism and organization, Kelly has a knack for distilling complex issues into accessible messages that resonate with voters. Her policy specialties include health care, education, employment and tort reform. Follow Kelly on Twitter at @okmaher.

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