PUEBLO—Victor Head was supposed to be knocking on doors to get out the vote over the weekend, but instead he’s glued to his cell phone at Pueblo Freedom and Rights, trying to put the brakes on voter fraud.
A woman came by to show him that she had received two yellow voter-identification cards: one with her middle name, Marie, spelled out, the other with just her middle initial, M. Sure enough, a computer check shows that she’s registered to vote twice.
Then a man dropped by Saturday to say that his father-in-law had received a yellow card, even though he died over a year ago. That’s the second dead voter to receive a voter-identification card in the mail so far this election, or at least the second one that Head knows of.
“So unfortunately we’re dealing with all these things, and it’s taking away from our get-out-the-vote effort,” said Head, who’s running the recall campaign against state Sen. Angela Giron.
Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz mailed yellow voter-identification cards to all active and inactive voters in Senate District 3, saying the postcard-sized IDs would help speed up the voting process and make it easier for registered voters to cast ballots in Tuesday’s election.
But Head fears that the yellow cards have made it too easy. Earlier this week, he fished three yellow cards out of a trash can at the post office. Because Colorado has no photo ID requirement, and no additional ID is needed, Head says anyone could have used the cards to vote in the recall.
“If we would have actually gone to all the post offices when the yellow cards went out, I’ll bet we’d have a stack of them,” said Head. “Four days after they went out, I went to check my P.O. box, and I saw all the Giron propaganda in the trash can, all the flyers she sent out, and I was kind of laughing about it, and then I saw, ‘Hey, yellow cards are in there.’”
Under the state’s newly enacted Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act, county clerks must include all active and inactive voters in their mailings. The two recall elections in Colorado Springs and Pueblo are being run as walk-in elections due to time constraints.
The Pueblo County clerk mailed about 16,000 yellow cards to inactive voters, or those who didn’t cast ballots in the previous election. The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s office, which is running the recall of Senate President John Morse, did not send out ID cards to voters, who can use anything from a utility bill to a driver’s license to prove their identity.
Pueblo voters who use the yellow cards as identification must still sign in at the Voter Service Centers affirming their identity. Secretary of State Scott Gessler had ruled earlier that the cards could not be used as valid ID, but a Denver District Court judge overruled him shortly before voting began.
“Last time we checked, there were 16,000 inactive voters, so somewhere floating around the county clerk’s office or who knows where, there are 16,000 yellow cards floating around that anyone can pick up and say, that’s them,” said Head. “And that would be illegal, but there’s not much to stop you is the problem. It’s illegal without much consequence. It’s kind of like jaywalking.”
Calls to Ortiz from a reporter were not immediately returned Monday.
Giron is seen as the safer of the two Democrats facing the recall, given that her Pueblo district is heavily Democratic. The latest count from the Pueblo clerk’s office shows that 9,838 Democrats have voted in the recall, versus 6,869 Republicans and 4,174 unaffiliated voters.
Giron also has issues with how the recall is being conducted. She told the Pueblo Chieftain that the lack of information on the walk-in election has been a “hindrance” to voter participation.
“A lot of people didn’t know you could vote on the weekend,” Giron said. “We didn’t have mail ballots for this election. Some people have been voting with mail ballots for 10 years now.”
Voting in the first-ever state legislative recall elections runs until 7 p.m. Tuesday.