Since taking over the Secretary of State’s Office in 2011, Scott Gessler has loudly and repeatedly claimed that non-citizens were illegally voting in Colorado elections. The Republican, who has long called for a new law requiring people to show proof of citizenship before voting, made national news when he went before Congress that year making a blockbuster statement that 16,270 non-citizens were registered to vote in Colorado and 5,000 of them actually had cast ballots in the 2010 state elections, when Democrat Michael Bennet narrowly defeated Republican Ken Buck for the U.S. Senate. But since making those claims, Gessler’s office said it has been able to identify only 80 non-citizens statewide who were on the voter rolls over the past nine elections, representing 0.0008 percent of the more than 10 million ballots that have been cast in those general elections, and those ballots don’t include primary races or local elections that were held during that time.
After years of critics demanding that Gessler forward names of suspected non-citizens whom he said were on the voter rolls, his office referred a list of 155 suspected non-citizen voters in July to 15 district attorneys across the state, recommending prosecution and issuing a strongly worded statement saying the list was proof the state’s election system is “vulnerable.”
A check by The Daily Sentinel with those district attorneys over the past two weeks, however, revealed that none of the referrals led to criminal prosecutions, though some still are under investigation. The analysis also showed that although some of the non-citizen voters did cast ballots in at least one election going as far back as 2004, the preponderance of the other voters actually were citizens who legally had the right to vote.
Despite criticism to the contrary, officials in Gessler’s office say the entire effort was never about political gain for the secretary of state, who now is seeking the GOP nomination for governor next year, when Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper faces a re-election bid.