Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Officials reviewing voter fraud allegations

By Megan Schrader Published: September 13, 2013

About 268 voters registered to vote or changed their address through election day to vote in the Senate District 11 successful recall of Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs.

The historic recall elections Tuesday in El Paso and Pueblo counties were the first under a new law that allows election day address changes and voter registration.

Christy Le Lait, who ran Morse's campaign to stay in office, said a stunt illustrating how to abuse that law that was covered widely by the media has cast a pall of doubt over those votes.

"What is real, what isn't, what's fraud?" Le Lait asked. "I don't even know how you start to look at that."

Morse, the sitting Senate president, was removed from office by 343 votes in the special election taken to the ballot by citizens angered by stricter gun laws who signed a recall petition.

Le Lait said there are no plans to challenge the election results, which could be certified any day.

Colorado law previously required voters to register to vote, or change their address, 29 days prior to an election. Anyone who missed that deadline was unable to vote.

But House Bill 1303 changed that deadline so voters could make those changes up through election day.

Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, in Denver, cast a blank ballot in the recall election after having filled out paperwork attesting an address in Senate District 11 was his permanent legal residence. Caldara previously lived in Boulder and said he intended to make Colorado Springs his permanent residence.

Le Lait filed a formal complaint with 4th Judicial District Attorney Dan May shortly after the incident and El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams said they will investigate, as well.

A spokesperson from May's office said the incident is being reviewed.

Williams said he remains concerned about the new law and people potentially abusing it to vote in a district other than where they live.

"I have concerns that the law made it very easy for that to potentially have occurred," Williams said.

Mailers will now be sent out to verify the addresses of all those who registered or changed address. Those that bounce back - undeliverable - will be investigated as potential voter fraud.

In Pueblo, where Sen. Angela Giron was recalled on Tuesday by 4,154 votes, close to 90 people registered to vote through election day.

Pueblo Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz said his office hasn't run statistics on new changes of address that occurred.

But Ortiz said he has drilled into the data on those newly registered and found most were 18-year-olds registering to vote for the first time, precisely what the law was intended for.

"My biggest concern before the law was when I had to look into the face of 18-year-olds and tell them they couldn't vote in the presidential election," Ortiz said. "To me, that was a good thing, seeing so many of the 18-year-olds come out to vote."

Williams said of the 268 votes they counted under the new law: 163 were new registrations in the district and 105 were address changes from outside El Paso County.

In addition to May's pending investigation into the Caldara incident, Le Lait requested the district attorney also investigate possible forgery and fraud during the signature gathering process to put the recall election on the ballot.

Lee Richards, spokeswoman for May, said that is still being reviewed as well.

Contact Megan Schrader

719-286-0644

Twitter: @CapitolSchrader

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