To further combat voter fraud in the Pikes Peak region, the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office will fund a new investigator position in the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman and District Attorney Michael Allen said Wednesday.
“We’re always looking at ways to increase transparency so our voters know our elections are accurate and secure,” Broerman told The Gazette.
The addition of a new investigator position in the District Attorney’s Office, which examines and prosecutes such cases, is another way to ensure election security locally, Broerman and Allen said. It will allow the department more resources as they investigate potential voter fraud in the Fourth Judicial District, which includes El Paso and Teller counties.
“Part of our duty as Americans is to take part in our voting process,” Allen said. “… This ensures people can continue to have confidence in our elections.”
The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office will fund the new position with about $60,000 annually from the department’s budget and the county will fund the benefits package, bringing the total cost to around $75,000, Broerman said. The move brings the number of investigators in the District Attorney’s Office, who also work on other types of criminal cases, to 25.
Though voter fraud is rare, it does happen, Broerman and Allen said. Prosecuting these cases also educates the public about what constitutes voter fraud, they said.
The most prevalent examples are people who fill out and sign ballots for other voters in their homes or those who receive and submit more than one ballot, Broerman said.
“That’s why we do signature verification, to make sure that you — and only you — are casting that ballot,” he said.
The amount of voter fraud occurring locally depends on several factors, like the nature of the election, Broerman said. High-profile elections, including presidential elections, tend to see more fraud cases, for example.
Following the November 2020 general election, Allen said his office received 96 potential cases of voter fraud among roughly 383,000 ballots cast in El Paso County and about 17,000 in Teller County, data from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office show. A fraction of them were prosecuted — about 10, Allen said.
The November 2020 election in particular raised concerns for some Americans over the security of local and national elections after former President Donald Trump and other Republicans claimed that mail-in balloting is largely fraudulent. Local and state leaders in Colorado and other states have refuted those claims.
While 96 cases of potential voter fraud “isn’t a lot,” Allen said, Broerman added any occurrence of voter fraud is too many.
“Even in one (instance), it’s important for us to scrutinize that because that lessens the impact of every other voter in our county,” Broerman said.
The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office has several safeguards in place to ensure the integrity and accuracy of its elections, Broerman said, including signature verification, an accuracy test done prior to the election and an audit following the election, and security systems for rooms containing voting equipment and ballots.
Other election protections include making a digital copy of each ballot available to the public for inspection and participating in an additional, independent audit of the county’s voting results following the election, Broerman said.