DENVER – Steve Curtis, the former chairman for the Colorado Republican Party, was found guilty Thursday by a Weld County jury of voter fraud and forgery.
Curtis, 58, was arrested in March and accused of signing his wife’s mail-in ballot for her , which is a misdemeanor in Colorado. He was also charged with forgery of a public record, a fifth-degree felony.
His ex-wife had moved to South Carolina and learned her ballot had already been cast when she called the county clerk to see how she could vote from there.
“He knew exactly what he was doing,” argued Deputy District Attorney Tate Costin during closing arguments. “He received it in the mail, opened it, voted, signed it, sealed it back up and sent it in. If he were going to sign a name during this confused diabetic state, wouldn’t he sign his own name? Why her name? She hadn’t even lived in the house for 11 months.”
Curtis was the state’s GOP chairman from 1997 to 1999, and caused a stir ahead of the 2016 election when he said on KLZ 560: “It seems to be, and correct me if I’m wrong here, but virtually every case of voter fraud I can remember in my lifetime was committed by Democrats.”
During his trial, which lasted four days, Curtis’ lawyer argued that Curtis had a diabetic episode and wasn’t in the “required mental state” to commit a crime.
However, his attorney, Christopher Gregory, said there was no dispute that Curtis filled out and mailed the ballot back to the county clerk.
Curtis is the third Coloradan to be convicted of voter fraud this year.
A Colorado Springs woman pleaded guilty in early September to voter fraud and forgery for casting a vote in her deceased mother’s name in 2013. And Tony Lee Newbill, of Golden, pleaded guilty in February to voting on her dead father’s ballot.
“In Colorado, we prosecute individuals who commit fraud,” said Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. “We had three elections this November that were decided by…drawings, so it illustrates that every vote is important and that’s why we take it seriously.”
Williams said the 48 instances of possible voter fraud found in a five-state study earlier this year had been turned over to district attorneys for investigation. He also said that the state’s county clerks will be turning over any ballots that had signature discrepancies to district attorney’s office as well.
The Colorado Democratic Party took a dig at Curtis and Republicans after the verdict was announced.
"Voter fraud is a virtually non-existent problem that Republicans use as an excuse to justify voter suppression tactics. In fact, voter fraud is so rare that the only person to be charged and convicted of committing voter fraud in Colorado in the 2016 election is...the former Chair of the Colorado Republican Party," spokesman Eric Walker said.
Curtis is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 26. The forgery charge carries a possible sentence of up to three years in prison.
“Voting is one of the most important rights we have as American citizens, and the defendant deliberately stole that right away from Ms. Curtis,” said District Attorney Michael Rourke. “He saw an opportunity to vote twice in one of the most important presidential elections in recent history and intentionally defrauded our system. No matter the political party you belong to, we must always stand up to those who strip away the rights of others.”