Updated: September 23, 2012 at 12:00 am
A shaky YouTube video of a voter registration effort outside a Colorado Springs grocery store led the county's elections boss to clarify Sunday that campaign volunteers aren’t on the government payroll.
The incident caught on video shows an encounter between a patron and a young female volunteer who was apparently working to make sure voters backing Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made it to the polls. The problem: The young woman, after some head-scratching, says her work to boost the GOP turnout is funded by the county clerk.
You can see the video HERE.
Neither the volunteer on the recording nor the patron could be tracked down Sunday. But some who saw the video were outraged, demanding an investigation of County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams, a Republican.
Williams said the woman, though, doesn’t work for his office, which oversees local elections and voter registration. Instead, he said, she’s probably one of the scores of volunteers who are hitting the streets for both political parties to push voter registration ahead of the Nov. 6 election. The last day to register to vote for the presidential election is Oct. 9.
“The voter registration drives that the Romney and the Obama campaigns are both doing are not run by our office,” Williams said.
The efforts are legal, Williams said.
The confusion, for volunteers and would-be voters, is that while parties are pushing for the registrations, the paperwork that’s filled out winds up in the Clerk’s Office to be certified, Williams said.
He thinks that’s why the unidentified volunteer on the video said she was working for the county clerk.
“She’s not our employee and we’re not hiring her,” Williams said. “We will gladly take the registrations from both of the parties, though, and ensure they are entered accurately.”
The implication of having partisan volunteers going around calling themselves county workers, though, bothered Bryan Fussell of Colorado Springs so much that he sent the video he had found on YouTube to The Gazette.
“It was very alarming,” he said after learning that the woman wasn’t working for Williams.
Williams could expect similar headaches in the days ahead.
The push to register voters ahead of the Oct. 9 deadline in El Paso County is expected to be massive for both sides.
Romney and President Barack Obama are virtually deadlocked in statewide polls, making Colorado one of few prizes that remains up for grabs with seven weeks left to campaign.
And El Paso County will play a huge role in the statewide outcome. Long known as the state’s deepest pool of Republican voters, the county contains a pool of Democrats big enough to sway a statewide race if turnout is high.
Williams said one good way for people to sign up for a ballot to have their say is on the Internet: Citizens with Colorado ID cards can register to vote at GoVoteColorado.com.