Aug 17, 2012 9:21 PM by Siera Santos, ssantos@koaa.com

Secretary of State asks voters to verify citizenship

It's the Secretary of State's job to make sure we have the cleanest elections possible, which means free of errors and voter fraud.

In a controversial decision this week, Colorado's Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler sent out letters to approximately 4,000 voters. The letter, sent to people who presented a "non-citizen document while applying for a driver's license," requests voters to voluntarily take themselves off the voter rolls or prove their citizenship. But critics are concerned this is a scare tactic aimed at minority voters who would typically vote Democrat.

With the election less than three months away, the Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder, Gilbert Ortiz, stresses the importance of having accurate voter rolls but also has concerns about the move.

"Verifying people's registration is part of that. It's unsure to me what the important of 4,000 voters being checked and asked to affirm that they're already citizens because they've already done it once," says Ortiz.

The Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder will be receiving the voluntary withdrawal forms, but that's if anyone responds.

"The Secretary states in the letter that he wants them to respond but I think it remains unclear if they don't respond what will happen."

Gessler asked the Department of Homeland Security to step-in and help identify improperly registered voters. However, Gessler didn't cross-check the targeted voters before sending out the letters.

"Because he didn't use that data, I'm questioning the validity of the data that he has right now."

If it's found out someone ineligible did vote, the ballot would be withdrawn and then investigated by the district attorney. Ortiz says that's never happened in his six years as a clerk and recorder.

With Election Day coming quickly, it'll be crunch time for counties who do have to remove voters who are ineligible.

In News 5's effort to be fair and balanced, our staff contacted the Secretary of State's office for comment but did not receive a call back.



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