Citing an ongoing investigation, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler said Tuesday he would not allow public inspection of the list of nearly 4,000 registered voters he suspects are ineligible to vote because they’re not citizens. Gessler was responding to an open record request from The Associated Press seeking to review the list to determine who the secretary mailed letters to last week, asking them to verify their citizenship or voluntarily withdraw from the rolls. “Obviously our intent is to improve the integrity of the voting rolls. It’s not to draw attention to specific individuals,” Gessler spokesman Rich Coolidge said. Coolidge said Gessler doesn’t want people who voluntarily withdraw from the voter rolls to be prosecuted. But it’s unclear what will happen to people who don’t withdraw from the list if they’re ineligible to vote. “We’re still trying to identify a path forward with that,” Coolidge said.
Democrats and left-leaning groups have criticized Gessler for his proposal to verify citizenship. They say it cannot ensure that eligible voters will not be removed from the rolls. “It’s difficult, because not knowing who’s on the rolls, it’s hard to evaluate the secretary’s approach and to see if certain types of voters are being targeted,” said Elena Nunez, the executive director of voting rights group Common Cause. Coolidge said he didn’t know if the records would be public at any point. Republicans have been largely behind efforts across the country to verify voters’ citizenship, to the ire of Democrats who worry that a key part of their base is likely to be disenfranchised: Latinos and seniors.