DENVER–Early voting in Colorado is officially one day old, and already an allegation of cheating has surfaced.
Republicans filed a complaint late Monday with Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Scott Doyle after learning that Democrats were offering free pizza and T-shirts outside the early-voting station at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
According to a press release from the Colorado Republican Party, the event violated federal and state election laws.
“Democrat operatives offered people free T-shirts and pizza in exchange for voting, posted signs paid for by the Democrat National Committee inside and within 100 feet of the polling location, displayed a large Obama for America banner just outside the polling place’s entrance, and deliberately covered up ‘paid for by’ disclaimers on materials they posted,” said the GOP statement.
When Republicans informed the election judge about the infractions, “the attending election judge refused to enforce the law, claiming the Democrat operatives were in a ‘free-speech zone,’ and that, ‘free speech trumps poll rules.’”
A request for comment sent by email to Colorado Democratic Party spokesman Matt Inzeo was not immediately returned Monday.
“Our democratic process hinges upon the integrity of our elections,” Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call said in a statement. “The Democrats’ clear disregard for the rules governing Colorado’s electoral process is a severe oversight that needs to be addressed.”
Election-day protocol has become a hot-button issue in 2012, with Republicans pushing for measures to guard against voter fraud and Democrats arguing that such rules may suppress voter turnout.
Colorado law prohibits offering “any money or other valuable consideration” to induce someone to vote or refrain from voting. State law also bans political signs within 100 feet of a polling place, and requires such signage to present a disclaimer “in a clear and conspicuous manner.”
Photos taken at the site and released by the GOP show three homemade signs outside the Lory Student Center urging voters to “1. Vote Today,” “2. Make a Shirt to Tell the World Why,” and “3. Eat Free Pizza.” Beside the signs is a large blue Obama for America “2012″ banner.
The Lory Student Center north ballroom is listed as an early-voting location on the Larimer County website.
In his letter to the Larimer County Clerk, Call asks for “immediate action to instruct the supervising supply judge at the polling place located on the campus of Colorado State University . . . to follow and enforce the laws governing the conduct of elections, and ensure that these violations do not continue.”
Otherwise, said Call, the state GOP would seek removal of the election judges, as well as “declaratory and injunctive relief” by the courts and law enforcement to ensure that “laws governing the conduct of election are properly followed.”
The letter asks for a response by the end of business Tuesday.
Early voting began Monday and runs until Nov. 2. The presidential election is Nov. 6.