Arapahoe County prosecutors have dropped charges against another person charged in a controversial voter fraud case last fall, leaving just two people facing charges following the lengthy investigation. Tadesse Degefa, 73, of Aurora, was scheduled to go on trial Sept. 3 on a misdemeanor charge of procuring false registration. But prosecutors a week before the trial asked a judge to drop the charge and the judge dismissed the case the day it was supposed to start, said Michelle Yi, a spokeswoman for the Arapahoe County district attorney’s office. In a statement, prosecutors said Degefa asked for a ballot in the mail for the 2012 election even though he wasn’t a citizen and couldn’t legally vote. But, prosecutors said, because the law makes it easy for a third party to ask for a ballot for someone else, they couldn’t prove it was actually Degefa who asked for the ballot. “The existing safeguards are insufficient to prevent this from happening again, and are inadequate for us to prosecute cases with these facts. We honor the law and our elections processes in this State and in this specific case. Here, justice was best served by dismissing the charge,” District Attorney George Brauchler said in a statement. Prosecutors said Degefa illegally voted in 2008 and 2009, but the statute of limitations in those cases had expired.
The cases were among more than 100 statewide identified by Colorado Secretary of Sate Scott Gessler, who said he pursued suspected fraud after extensive research in hopes of highlighting irregular election problems. Relatively few of the suspected cases have warranted charges, and critics have accused Gessler of a partisan ploy, picking on legal immigrants.
Arapahoe County prosecutors announced charges against Degefa and three others in November and said they were the result of a four-month investigation by six staffers working more than 300 hours investigating 41 suspects. Of those 41 voters, prosecutors found more than half were eligible voters.