More than a year ago, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler said there could be in excess of 11,000 noncitizens registered to vote in Colorado and more than 4,000 of those who had cast ballots, and he has called noncitizen voter registration a “gaping hole” in the system. But earlier this month, Gessler, a Republican, announced that his office had found only 141 people who were noncitizens registered to vote out of 1,416 names run through a federal database, and of those 141, only 35 who had cast ballots. That number represents 0.001 percent of Colorado’s 3.5 million registered voters.
Critics of Gessler on the left say the concern over ballots being cast by thousands of voters who aren’t U.S. citizens has been founded on myth, not math. “It’s created an atmosphere where voters, even ones who are entitled to vote, fear their registration may not be valid or that they’ll be challenged at the polls,” said Elena Nunez, executive director of Common Cause, a liberal group that has tangled with Gessler over election issues.
Gessler disputes the conclusion that there were only 35 noncitizens who cast ballots. First, he says, his search isn’t over and will continue this year. But more important, he says, his search process so far has been limited, looking only at people who have gotten driver’s licenses since 2006, and didn’t include people who may have used noncitizen documents to get driver’s licenses in other states and then moved to Colorado and gotten a driver’s license here.