Governor Demands Investigation Into Voter Registration Fraud

Secretary Of State Looks Into Election Fraud Concerns

Gov. Bill Owens is demanding an investigation into allegations of voter registration fraud after Secretary of State Donetta Davidson said she is worried that the attorney general has not done enough to track offenders.

"I am extremely concerned about the widespread allegations of serious and sustained criminal activity surrounding voter registration in Colorado. The sanctity and security of the ballot box are at stake. With new allegations arising on virtually a daily basis, it is essential that all parties involved -- and particularly the attorney general and district attorneys -- act decisively and rapidly to root out fraud and prosecute it to the fullest extent of the law," Owens said.

Davidson said she has received hundreds of questionable voter registration forms from county clerks since April and wonders why only one person has been charged. Davidson said she thought all those questionable applications would be investigated by now, but they haven't been.

"I called today the attorney general's office and informed him that I was going to take a lead in some of this. I have been kept out of the loop, but I have been the one that has been held responsible for this issue," she said. "We need to pull all our resources together to make sure we look into these problems."

Attorney General Ken Salazar said he would work with county district attorneys to locate and prosecute people who illegally register multiple times.

"I join with Governor Owens and Secretary of State Davidson in unanimous condemnation of the voting registration and other election law violations that have come to light in advance of next monthÂ’s election." Salazar said. "Within my jurisdiction as Attorney General -- and in full cooperation with the district attorneys around the state -- we will find and prosecute these violations aggressively and to the fullest extent of the law."

Chief Deputy Attorney General Don Quick said his office has received about 150 questionable registration forms but said investigations of them take time. The original documents have to be found and submitted to handwriting analysts, he said.

"The clerk and recorders have a few things going on other than going through thousands of documents," he said.

Quick also said the misdemeanor charge of false voter registration might need to be made a felony to provide a stronger deterrent.

Davidson said she felt the election could be managed properly and that most everything will be worked out on Election Day.

The importance of having every single vote be valid is crucial since Colorado is considered a swing state in the presidential election, and its U.S. Senate race could determine political control of that body.

"The hype on this election has been pushed up because it's so close," she said.

However, she vowed to go after people who abuse their vote such as people who register several times, or who register under false names.

At the press conference on Wednesday she showed different voter registration forms that appeared to have the same signatures, and forms that appeared to have forged signatures.

"If you knowingly violate the election laws by registering others or yourself, by voting absentee, early or at a polling place on Election Day under a fraudulent registration or fraudulent terms, I will fight and hopefully make sure the DAs or the AG prosecutes those individuals," Davidson said.

She said she will call a grand jury investigation if she finds reason to believe the election won't be fair and accurate.

"The clock is ticking toward Election Day, and 20-20 hindsight in mid-November telling us what we could or should have done won't be good enough. Delays and excuses aren't acceptable and protracted litigation after the polls close is not the answer," Owens said. "I call on the secretary of state, county clerks, district attorneys, and the attorney general himself to place the highest priority on attacking potential voter fraud. Decisive action, not delay, is urgently needed."

Davidson has called a meeting on Sunday for district attorneys, the state attorney general and county clerks to discuss the issue.

Davidson also will convene a task force on voter fraud after the election with citizens and legal experts. She said the panel will advise her in making legislative recommendations, including whether to increase the penalty for voter fraud and whether people should be paid to collect voter registration forms.

This year intensive registration drives have resulted in tens of thousands of registration applications. The Denver Election Commission received more than 10,000 first-time registrations in September alone, spokesman Alan McBeth said.

In some cases, groups paid workers according to how many people filled out applications. Kym Cason said that she registered 25 times and registered several of her friends 40 times to help her boyfriend, who earned $2 for each voter he registered for the Association of Community Organizations.

Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Faye Griffin said clerks are uncertain about how to determine whether felons are on voting rolls improperly. Felons cannot vote if they are in prison or on parole, but felons on probation can vote.

Under current law, anyone convicted of voter fraud faces 18 months in jail and fines of up to $5,000.

Davidson said if there is a question about your registration when you go to the polls on Nov. 2, you will be able to vote in all the races on a provisional ballot and it will be counted if you bring identification.

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