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Illegal voting investigation targets hundreds in 12 Colorado counties

March 25, 2005
DENVER - Hundreds of Coloradans are under investigation for alleged voting violations in the November election, including casting multiple ballots, forging signatures or voting when they were ineligible, county officials say.

Prosecutors in 47 of Colorado's 64 counties investigated suspect ballots, and 12 counties reported finding problems, Secretary of State Donetta Davidson said Thursday, confirming a report in The Denver Post.

At least 122 voters statewide apparently cast absentee ballots through the mail, then voted again on Election Day, according to the newspaper. At least 120 people in prison or on parole for felony violations - making them ineligible to vote under state law - face possible prosecution for casting ballots.

No cases were found in Summit County, according to County Clerk and Recorder Cheri Brunvand.

Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, said proposed legislation will address some of the problems involving absentee ballots and a blue-ribbon investigative panel will continue to study ways to prevent felons from casting votes.

The panel, appointed by the state's top elections official after problems surfaced in the run-up to the November 2004 vote, is asking lawmakers to make it illegal for a voter registration drive worker to throw away registration forms. The panel also recommended that all new electronic voting machines be required to have a paper trail to avoid disputes and uncertainty about the results.

Davidson said some of the reported cases may have involved voter mistakes. She said the state also has never tracked felons to try to determine if they were casting illegal ballots.

"They will be tracked from now on," Davidson said.

The state had procedures in place to catch some types of voter fraud. The law requires elections officials to verify the signatures of mail-in ballots, for example.

"Colorado has substantially more security measures than federal law requires and more in combination than virtually any other state," said Mary Wickersham, who analyzes state election laws.

Jefferson County elections director Susan Miller said she doubted the irregularities resulted in double-voting in her county. The county asked prosecutors to investigate 286 cases - 30 dealing with people attempting to vote twice and 256 stemming from suspicious signatures on absentee ballots.

In the 18th Judicial District, based in Arapahoe County, officials said several voters mistakenly filled out and signed their spouses' ballots. Others submitted ballots sent to voters who previously lived at the same address.

In one case, a husband and wife in Douglas County each cast absentee ballots, then cast provisional ballots for fear their mail-in votes wouldn't count, district attorney spokesman Mike Knight said.

"Those aren't the kind of cases we'd be likely to prosecute," Knight said.

El Paso County election officials reported 23 cases of prisoners or parolees who voted.

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