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Reforms for voter fraud unveiled

By Mark P. Couch
Denver Post    25 March 2005

Colorado Secretary of State Donetta Davidson on Thursday outlined a package of voting reforms designed to fix problems that surfaced during last year's elections.

The reforms cover everything from the forms that citizens sign when they register to the machines on which they cast their ballots.

And those reforms aim to decrease the incidents of voter fraud that surfaced in the 13 counties that reported voting irregularities to the secretary of state's office.

"I promised people before the elections that we would come back and tell you and really move forward," Davidson said, "that if there was problems, we would prosecute if the prosecution needs to move forward, and that is exactly what we are doing."

As of Thursday, 58 counties of the state's 64 had responded to a request from Davidson's office regarding election investigations, said Davidson spokeswoman Dana Williams.

Of those, only 13 counties have referred cases of potential fraud to the county district attorneys, Williams said. Those cases included 41 instances of citizens voting twice and 69 felons casting ballots.

Denver County officials did not report to Davidson's office but told The Denver Post that the county had 81 cases of residents voting twice and 52 felons casting ballots.

On Thursday, The Post reported that 47 counties had notified the secretary of state that they had looked into voting irregularities.

The reform proposals are the result of a three-month study by a commission appointed by Davidson to deal with voting problems.

Lawmakers expect to introduce a bill next week that incorporates the commission's recommendations.

Key provisions include:

Counties would be required to use election equipment that provides a paper trail to verify votes. Newly purchased electronic equipment must meet that standard. Existing equipment must be d by 2010.

Voters who go to the wrong precinct could cast provisional ballots to keep their status as an active voter, but their votes would not count. Active voters do not need to re-register to vote.

Counties must adhere to a calendar that ensures that absentee ballots will be printed with enough time for voters to return them.

Voters could use student and Indian identification cards as valid IDs.

Organizers of voter-registration drives would be required to register with the secretary of state and would need to use forms with receipt numbers that voters can present at the polls as proof that they registered.

The proposals should reduce cases of voter fraud, officials said.

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