An El Paso County clerical error was apparently to blame for Planned Parenthood shooting suspect Robert Lewis Dear Jr. being listed as a woman on his voter registration card - a detail that fueled national speculation over his gender identity.
Ryan Parsell, El Paso County's chief deputy clerk and recorder, said his office incorrectly recorded Dear's gender in October 2014, leading to the issuance of both a driver's license and voter's registration card erroneously identifying him as a woman.
Scroll below to see the original voter registration documents
"The Clerk and Recorder's Office processes over 500,000 transactions a year," Parsell said. "Mistakes are going to be made, and it is a reminder to us of the important job that we do to see that a mistake made by us has had national implications."
What Parsell described as a data entry error occurred after the 57-year-old Dear moved to tiny Hartsel in Park County, which doesn't have a driver's license office.
Records show Dear traveled 65 miles to a Colorado Springs clerk and recorder's office to obtain his driver's license and his voter's registration card, Parsell said.
Although Dear clearly identified himself as a man, the information was incorrectly logged into a computer, Parsell added.
"Our employee inadvertently clicked on 'female' and gave the confirmation to Mr. Dear to review," he said. "He missed it and signed it."
Thirteen days later, Dear received the erroneous driver's license in the mail. Records show he traveled to a Department of Motor Vehicles office in Salida to report the error and request a corrected license, which he received, Parsell said.
To change his voter's registration card, however, Dear would have had to mail a separate request to his local clerk and recorder's office.
Documents obtained by The Gazette on Monday suggest Dear did just that - mailing a "Change in Voter Registration Information" form to the Park County Clerk and Recorder's Office in which he both updated his P.O. Box and apparently marked a box for "male."
No correction was made, however, because the marking was so faint that a deputy clerk concluded it wasn't intentional, said Park County Clerk and Recorder Debra Green.
Green described the marking as "a small dark spot" that doesn't completely fill the box next to "male."
"She just looked at it and she was like, 'Did the pen hit there? Did the mail put a mark through there when it went to the Post Office?' It's just not clear to either one of us what the intent was."
Green noted that Dear voted twice using the voter registration card - once in November 2014 and again this fall.
Parsell said that his office made "similar errors" during the same time period, chalking them up to heavy workloads and "antiquated systems."
"If there's a mark in the male portion of that card, taking it in totality, I think it's safe to assume at this point it was probably an attempt to change his gender on the voter registration form."
Parsell said that because Park County doesn't offer driver's licensing, they wouldn't have access to the same databases demonstrating that Dear listed himself as a male elsewhere or that he took steps to have his driver's license corrected.
Confusion over Dear's gender identity provided fodder for social media commentators and conservative news sites, not to mention the political spin machine.
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz recently downplayed reports that Dear said "no more baby parts" by saying that he's also been reported to be a "transgendered leftist activist," a claim that appears to be limited to conservative blogs and news sites.
Dear, who lived with a woman neighbors identified as a girlfriend, is being held without bond at the El Paso County jail pending a Dec. 9 hearing where he is likely to be charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder.
The jail log likewise lists his gender as male.
Maria St. Louis-Sanchez contributed to this report.