Colorado's Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler has been on the hunt for voter fraud in the state since he took the office in 2011, claiming non-citizens were illegally voting in Colorado elections. But a new report from The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel shows that, to date, there have been zero prosecutions of Gessler's suspects.
After originally claiming more than 16,000 non-citizens registered to vote in Colorado in 2011 and that as many as 5,000 of them had actually voted in 2010,, Gessler's office finally released the names of only 155 people who they thought of as suspects. That list was proof, Gessler said, that the Colorado voting system is vulnerable to fraud. So The Daily Sentinel investigated those cases:
A check by The Daily Sentinel with those district attorneys over the past two weeks, however, revealed that none of the referrals led to criminal prosecutions, though some still are under investigation. The analysis also showed that although some of the non-citizen voters did cast ballots in at least one election going as far back as 2004, the preponderance of the other voters actually were citizens who legally had the right to vote.
Many of those people whose citizenship and right to vote were called into question by Gessler were found to be verifiable U.S. citizens, The Associated Press reported. In some counties, like Boulder, of those questioned, only legal U.S. citizens were found.
"Local governments and county clerks do a really good job regulating the integrity of elections, and I'll stand by that record any day of the week," said Stan Garnett (D), Boulder County's district attorney to The Boulder Daily Camera. "We don't need state officials sending us on wild goose chases for political reasons."
In response to the Daily Sentinel report, liberal blog ColoradoPols described Gessler's quest for voter integrity as a "complete failure, a totally unjustified return on Gessler's investment of manpower" and said, three years later with zero prosecutions, "Gessler has no credibility."
In 2011, Gessler found himself in hot water when he instructed county clerks not to mail ballots to registered (but inactive) citizens in their counties. He based his decision on a belief the practice allowed nearly 5,000 non-citizens to vote in Colorado's 2010 election.
While some clerks fell in line and followed Gessler's directive, others didn't -- pointing out that Gessler's orders would prevent legitimate voters from participating, including members of the armed forces who hadn't been around to vote in 2010.
This all triggered a lawsuit, Pueblo County Clerk Bo Ortiz and Denver's Clerk Debra Johnson both ended up on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, and U.S. Representatives Robert Brady (D-Penn.) and Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas) concluded Gessler's orders were "likely to disenfranchise eligible voters and should be condemned." Johnson and Ortiz won the suit and sent ballots to registered-inactive voters, but the larger issue of voter registration remained unsolved.
Gessler's critics have long accused the Secretary of State, who once said a "good election" is when "Republicans win", of "manufacturing a voter fraud scare" for political reasons and going so far as to characterize it as a "witch hunt" that Gessler should be embarrassed by.
But Gessler, who is one of a handful of Republicans running for governor of Colorado against Democratic incumbent Gov. John Hickenlooper, continues to defend his actions saying that his goal has simply been to aggressively protect the state against voter fraud.
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Florida Eliminates Early Voting On Sundays
Tensions run high in Florida, a critical battleground state that passed an election law last year with several contested provisions. One bans a decade-long practice of early voting on Sundays before the election -- a window when as <a href="http://www.postonpolitics.com/2012/03/black-dems-trying-to-change-sunday-pre-election-voting-restriction/" target="_hplink">many as 30 percent</a> of black voters have previously cast ballots after attending church in a "souls to the polls" movement. Republican lawmakers claim the provision is meant to reduce election fraud, but some black Democrats say the calculation is more sinister. "It's my feeling it was done deliberately, a premeditated design, to suppress the vote of African-Americans in this country because it's playing out all over the nation in every state. It was intentional," Florida Sen. Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa) said.
Photo ID Firestorm Rocks South Carolina
The Justice Department <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/23/south-carolina-voter-id-law_n_1168162.html" target="_hplink">dealt a blow </a>to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls, arguing that it discriminated along racial lines. Haley's administration fired back <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/07/south-carolina-voter-id-law-lawsuit-justice-department_n_1260369.html" target="_hplink">with a lawsuit</a> that is expected to be decided in September. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said earlier this year that Republicans hope to tip the outcome of the presidential election by lowering voter turnout by 1 percent in each of nine states that have passed voter ID laws, the <a href="http://westashley.patch.com/articles/democrats-combat-voter-id-law-by-organizing#video-9786253" target="_hplink">West Ashley Patch reports</a>. "I know nothing has changed yet," he said. "But I just do not trust the judiciary that we're operating under."
Disenfranchised Grandmother Sues Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania's new voter ID law, voters must show a photo ID issued by the state or federal government. The state-issued IDs are free, but getting one requires a birth certificate, which costs $10 in Pennsylvania. Not everyone is having an easy time navigating the new system. Earlier this month, Viviette Applewhite, 93, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/02/pennsylvania-voter-id-law-viviette-applewhite_n_1472192.html" target="_hplink">filed a lawsuit </a>with the ACLU and NAACP challenging the law. Applewhite, who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, does not have a driver's license, and the state cannot find her birth certificate. She is afraid that this year will be the first since 1960 that she will be unable to vote. Applewhite's dilemma is not uncommon. Some <a href="http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/montco_memo/142671935.html" target="_hplink">700,000 Pennsylvanians</a> lack photo ID and half of them are seniors. According to <a href="http://www.brennancenter.org/page/-/d/download_file_39242.pdf" target="_hplink">the Brennan Center</a>, 25 percent of voting-age black citizens have no government-issued photo ID, compared to 8 percent of white citizens.
Kansas Moves To Accelerate Proof Of Citizenship Law
The Kansas House <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/08/voter-id-law-kansas-proof-of-citizenship-2012_n_1500109.html" target="_hplink">voted earlier this year</a> to move up the date a proof of citizenship law goes into effect to June 15, 2012, so it will limit who can vote in the presidential election. HuffPost's John Celock <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/08/voter-id-law-kansas-proof-of-citizenship-2012_n_1500109.html" target="_hplink">reports</a>: <blockquote>Rep. Ann Mah (D-Topeka) said the entire idea of proof of citizenship to vote would fail in court due to it being discriminatory against married women who change their names. Mah said that women who change their name need to provide proof of marriage and citizenship and an affidavit regarding the name change.<br> Rep. Scott Schwab (R-Olathe) took issue with Mah's claims of court challenges. "I get frustrated that everyone who does not like policy says we'll end up in court," he said.</blockquote> Only 48 percent of voting-age women with access to their birth certificates have a birth certificate with a current legal name, which means that as many as 32 million American women do not have proof of citizenship with their current legal name, <a href="http://www.brennancenter.org/page/-/d/download_file_39242.pdf" target="_hplink">according to the Brennan Center</a>. The bill to change the start date <a href="http://salinapost.com/2012/05/10/kobach-concedes-kansas-voter-citizenship-plan-dead/" target="_hplink">eventually failed</a>, but will still go into effect next year.
Wisconsin Law Continues To Disenfranchise Voters After Suspension
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