DENVER–Secretary of State Scott Gessler sent 155 cases of suspected non-citizens voters to local prosecutors Monday, and blamed Democrats for it.
In 2012, Senate Democrats killed a bill sought by Gessler that would have made it easier to flag non-citizens who register to vote before they reach the ballot box.
“I’m frustrated that the partisan legislature turned its back on prevention. Rather than help people follow the law, they instead want to punish them,” said Gessler in a statement. “Their approach undermines election integrity and is frankly a heartless way to treat immigrants.”
The swipe comes as the latest flare-up in Gessler’s ongoing battle with Democratic legislators over voting integrity and access.
Democrats left Gessler out of the process this year when they drew up and approved a sweeping elections overhaul that didn’t include a requirement to show photo identification, a provision that the Republican Gessler has championed.
Meanwhile, Gessler has moved to eliminate illegal voting by identifying non-citizens who wind up on the state’s voter rolls, usually during the process of obtaining driver’s licenses.
Gessler found the latest 155 non-citizen voters using state records and the Homeland Security Department’s immigration database, the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements.
His office has sent letters to more than 4,000 registered voters who used non-citizen identification, such as green cards, when signing up to vote. Most of those cases have been resolved, but the remaining 155 voters represent those who failed to respond to his request for more information.
Gessler said he was reluctant to refer the cases to prosecutors, but that he has no choice under the current law. His 2012 bill would have established a hearing process for suspected non-citizen voters in which they would either correct errors on their registration or remove themselves from the rolls.
Democrats have downplayed the illegal-voter issue, accusing Gessler of intimidating voters by trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.
Denise Maes, public-policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, called the referral of 155 voters to the district attorneys “sloppy” and “lazy,” according to the Associated Press.
Gessler, who is considering a run for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, said Democrats have chosen to ignore the presence of illegal voters on the election rolls.
“We can no longer turn a blind eye to this vulnerability in our election system,” Gessler said. “I’ve invited suggestions from legislators and policymakers on how to better protect the integrity of our voter rolls – rather than solve problems, Democratic legislators only want to criticize. When it comes to election integrity, they seem to think that it’s okay if people break into your house – as long as they don’t steal too much.”