May 022005
 
Authors: Jen Utter

Although the November elections happened nearly six months ago, Colorado counties are still pursuing allegations of voter fraud.

A push for stricter voting regulations could occur, as 47 of the 64 Colorado counties continue to investigate reports that voter registration fraud and voter election fraud have occurred.

"In some instances, it took a few months to gather supporting documents and information prior to and after turning the information to the district attorney's office," wrote Robert Balink, El Paso County clerk and recorder in an e-mail interview.

Colorado counties started investigating allegations of voter registration fraud before the November elections were even held.

"Registration was meant to prevent fraud but it remains as a hindrance to voting because the responsibility for registration is on the individual," wrote Kyle Saunders, CSU assistant political science professor, in an e-mail interview.

Because there is so much responsibility on the voter to register, some feel the registration process should just be abolished.

"I think it would be great if people could just show up on voting day," said Bill Chaloupka, chair of the political science department. "I think it would increase turnout."

However, Balink saw many cases of fabricated signatures on registration sign-ups from the election. He said he tends to see this problem with signature gatherers who get paid per signature or get paid per page.

Some Colorado voters managed to get through voting loopholes by forging signatures, voting twice and voting as a convicted felon.

El Paso County caught a woman who requested and voted an absentee ballot in both El Paso County and Florida.

The Denver Election Commission spends time investigating cases of people voting twice to determine if voters intentionally broke the law.

"A person who shows up to vote and has already voted absentee may have simply forgotten," wrote Susan Rogers, election commissioner for the Denver Election Commission, in an e-mail interview. "This happens with people whose memories are impaired."

Alan McBeth, director of communications for the Denver Election Commission, said the commission receives the allegations and decides whether either the Denver city attorney or the secretary of state should further pursue it.

"It is important to investigate and charge people to set an example and because it's the law," Rogers wrote.

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), designed to improve the election process, will be implementing a statewide database to prevent people from voting twice within a state effective Jan. 1, Balink wrote.

"This is a step in the right direction," he wrote. "But what about a national voter registration database to be sure someone doesn't vote in two different states?"

Colorado Sens. Ken Gordon and Shawn Mitchell hope to enact Senate Bill-198, which would require Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in future elections, according to www.democracyforcolorado.com/en/node/373. The VVPAT prints out the voters' results, allowing them to see their selections before leaving the polling place.

While some people feel that Colorado needs to impose stricter requirements for voter registration and voting, others feel something that is in working order shouldn't be "fixed."

"While it is probably impossible to prevent it (voter fraud) completely, I believe that there is very little of it in Colorado," said John Straayer, CSU professor of political science. "Our elections are well run, are carefully and competently administered by the 64 county clerk and recorders, and even the few violations which occur are pursued, as they should be."

Colorado counties plan to continue voter fraud investigations and search for ways to minimize further fraud.

"If we hold our democracy dear and we believe in the democratic process, self-governance, and determining our leaders, shouldn't we do everything possible to ensure that the election process is fair and honest?" Balink wrote.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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