Early Voting Begins In Colorado:
Officials Try To Reassure Colorado Will Have A Clean Election
By Steven K. Paulson, Associated Press Writer. October 18, 2004.
DENVER (AP) Long lines and sporadic computer problems greeted Coloradans who showed up to cast ballots on the first day of early voting Monday.
Voting began under emergency rules established by Secretary of State Donetta Davidson to deal with potential fraud following allegations that hundreds of people have fraudulently tried to register.
Some people were angry as they stood in line for more than an hour to vote at a polling place in a Denver supermarket because officials could not connect their laptop computers to databases set up to prevent voter fraud.
Voter John Seifert, 68, said a half dozen people had to leave without casting a ballot.
"The rest of us are obstinate, and we'll stay here until hell freezes over," he said..
Davidson did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Outside, Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, held a rally and urged people to take advantage of early voting.
"In this close election, people need to know they could be the deciding vote," she told a cheering crowd in the parking lot.
Davidson said the emergency rules were necessary after her office discovered 6,352 possible voter registration matches for felons. Under Colorado law, felons are allowed to vote only if they are no longer in prison and are not on parole.
County clerks also have discovered multiple registrations for dozens of people, and other cases where people signed up in voter registration drives and their records disappeared.
Deputy Attorney General Don Quick said most of the fraudulent registrations were caught and those voters never made it on the voter rolls.
"They're talking about a big chunk being caught up front by clerks and recorders," he said.
Quick said others will be discovered on Election Day and their provisional ballots will be rejected before they can affect any races.
County clerks said they would find and prosecute people trying to vote fraudulently but that they did not want to scare away qualified voters.
"We want people to vote. We do not want people to be fearful they cannot vote," Adams County Clerk Carol Snyder said after the meeting.
One woman told a Denver television station she registered to vote 25 times and signed up several friends up to 40 times each to help her boyfriend, who was being paid by a community group to register new voters.
Colorado law bars felons who are in prison or on parole from voting. Under new rules that took effect Monday, county clerks were checking the rolls for felons and flagging them for poll judges.
Poll judges were to challenge those voters and force them to sign an oath that they were qualified to vote and then give them a provisional ballot that will be counted only when their registration is verified.
The rules also allow people to vote if they registered but their registration forms do not show up on official lists. Such people will be asked about when and where they registered and then be given a provisional ballot.
Clerks have 12 days after the Nov. 2 election to verify the provisional ballots and verify voter registration, and three more days to certify the results. That could delay results in several major races, including the presidential election and the battle for the U.S. Senate between Republican beer executive Peter Coors and Democratic Attorney General Ken Salazar.
The emergency rules were modified Monday after a state judge overturned a new rule that would have prevented voters from casting a ballot at a polling place if they had requested an absentee ballot.
The judge said such voters may cast provisional ballots at the polls if they swear they did not turn in the absentee ballot.
The judge upheld rules requiring voters to produce identification and allowing them to vote only for president if they show up at the wrong precinct.