State law allows your vote to be challenged by another voter or election judge

No punishment for those who challenge incorrectly

DENVER - State law allows your vote to be challenged by other voters at your precinct on Election Day.

7NEWS checked the state statute. On Election Day, another voter or an election judge can challenge any voter on one of three criteria:

  • Age
  • Resident of precinct
  • Legal status

"Particularly, with Colorado's swing state status this may be the year that we see that law actually put into use," said Elena Nunez, executive director of Colorado Common Cause, a non-profit group for open, honest and accountable government.

"What we do know is that there are groups training their volunteers to question the eligibility of other voters," she said.

Nunez is referring to True the Vote, a tea-party organization that planned to train one million volunteers to work on Election Day.

"We're concerned that they're going to target voters who may not be as familiar with the voting process; whether they're new citizens, first time voters (or) seniors," said Nunez.

"You have to have some level of specificity. You're going to have to usually have some good reason for challenging the person," said Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

"If someone's legal status is questioned, is an election judge allowed to ask for proof of legal status?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.

"The election judge and the clerk and recorder, they're empowered to resolve that, and as part of their resolution they may ask for evidence," said Gessler. "And that evidence may just be a sworn affidavit."

Nunez disagreed.

"There's no requirement that you show proof," Nunez said. "And, in fact, that's something that gives us great pause, that there could be someone asking for proof at the polls."

7NEWS checked the statute and found poll workers are not allowed to ask for proof.

Election judges can only ask questions to the voter being challenged.

If the voter's legal status is challenged, state law calls for the election judge to ask, "Are you a citizen of the United States?"

If the person's voting age is challenged, state law calls for the election judge to ask, "To the best of your knowledge and belief, are you 18 years of age or older?"

There are also specific questions if the voter's residency is challenged.

"Have you ever witnessed voter suppression or a voter challenge?" asked Zelinger.

"We have never seen any instances of voter suppression in the form of challenges, here in Colorado," said Nunez. "We're preparing as though this might be the year that that changes."

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