Half the voter fraud cases prosecuted in Colorado have now been dropped before trial. Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler’s office has dismissed its case against Tadesse G. Degefa, 73, of Aurora, who allegedly registered for a mail-in ballot in 2012, despite the fact that he wasn’t a U.S. Citizen. Brauchler said he couldn’t win the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Dismissal of Degefa’s case comes two and a half months after Brauchler dropped charges, also citing a lack of evidence, in another voter fraud case against canvasser Michael Michaelis. Statistically, the dismissals are significant because the two voter fraud cases were among only four being prosecuted statewide after Secretary of State Scott Gessler claimed there was an epidemic of voters cheating Colorado’s election system.
Soon after taking office in 2011, Gessler – a longtime Republican election lawyer — said 16,000 non-citizens were registered to vote in Colorado and that he had identified 11,805 people as potentially fraudulent voters because they used noncitizen identification for drivers’ licenses with which they registered to vote.
“How many illegal voters are we willing to tolerate before we start enforcing the law?” Gessler’s spokesman Rich Coolidge was quoted in the Daily Camera last August.
But once secretary of state staffers took a closer look, it became clear that Gessler’s claims about rampant voter fraud were alarmist. Last year, his office identified 155 voters he deemed to be suspicious and passed their names to district attorneys throughout the state, urging them to investigate and prosecute.