Inside a secure, nondescript office building in Pueblo, a team of state officials spends 17 hours a day combing through voter data as part of a new effort to prevent election fraud. The nerve center is responsible for verifying voter signatures that political candidates collect to qualify for the 2018 ballot in Colorado — a process corrupted by forgery and felony charges two years ago. “This is all new,” said Secretary of State Wayne Williams, as he gave The Denver Post an exclusive tour of the facility. In prior elections, he continued, “there was zero checking done on the signature. This is the first year we’ve ever checked the signature component.”
The requirement is part of a 2017 law that came in response to forged signatures on petitions plagued the Republican primary for U.S. Senate and two ballot initiatives in 2016. The new rules build more confidence into the system and make it tougher for candidates to qualify for the ballot, but state officials acknowledge that holes in the system remain.
“We are trying to make it so it’s a better process,” said Williams, a Republican.
The process faces its first stress test this week as candidates for Congress, statewide offices, the legislature and others submit thousands of voter signatures ahead of the petition deadline Tuesday.