Douglas County mom says clerk keeps sending out of state son's ballots to her house

Ballot received even when he was incarcerated

LONE TREE, Colo. - A Lone Tree woman says she’s been trying for years to get the Douglas County Clerk to stop mailing her son’s ballots to her house.

Rhonda Teeter says her son, Dustin, hasn’t lived in Colorado for years.

“When he lived here, I made him get an ID and made him register to vote,” she said.

Soon after, he moved back to New York.

“He’d been here less than six months in his entire life. He’s 30 now,” Teeter said. “I’ve been getting his ballots since he turned 18, so for 12 years.”

Teeter said her son got into trouble last year and was sent to prison following a felony conviction in New York.  She still got his ballot from Douglas County.

In Colorado, convicted felons can vote if they are not in prison, nor on parole.

“It’s concerning,” said Colorado Secretary of State Spokesman Rich Coolidge. “We do get those complaints somewhat frequently during election season.”

Coolidge said the Secretary of State’s Office works with the Department of Corrections to identify registered voters who are ineligible to vote.

When asked if the office is connected to the Correction Departments in all 50 states, he replied, “No.”

Coolidge told 7NEWS that once the Secretary of State gets notice that a person no longer lives at his or her registered address, the staff will send a follow up letter that can be forwarded to their new address asking if they’re still registered in Colorado and whether they want to be a voter.  And if not, it instructs them to go to the department’s website to remove themselves from the voter rolls.

Teeter says she wonders how many Coloradans get ballots for family members who no longer live here and whether some of them might be unscrupulous enough to cast the ballots themselves.

She said she just learned early Monday that her son was also registered to vote in New York.

“It’s illegal to be a registered voter in multiple states,” Coolidge said, “It’s more illegal to cast ballots in both states and is certainly something that we take very seriously.”

Teeter said her son doesn’t cast ballots in both states.

When asked what Teeter needs to do to stop the ballots from coming to her house, Douglas County Clerk and Recorder Jack Arrowsmith said, “She should return the ballots marked ‘NOT DELIVERABLE.’ That will trigger a response.

“Our staff will then try to track him down, find out where he lives and where he should be registered,” Arrowsmith said.

Teeter said she was never told that when she called the clerk's office.

Coolidge said clerks are not allowed to purge voters, like Dustin, who haven’t cast a ballot for years.

“There was a new law passed a couple of  years ago that said, ‘even if you don’t vote frequently, you’ll continue to be on the rolls until you say, I no longer wish to be a voter, I’ve moved,’” Coolidge said.

He added that the Secretary of State’s Office also works closely with the state health department and with federal officials to identify voters who are deceased or who are incarcerated in Federal prisons.

He said it’s a challenge to try to keep up with those who have moved out of state, whether it’s for a new job or to go to school.

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