Cleaning up dirty voter rolls is not easy or quick work. Exhibit A: Colorado.
Nearly three years ago, Judicial Watch filed a federal lawsuit in Colorado after gathering evidence that the state was a serial offender in failing to comply with the voter list maintenance requirements of the National Voter Registration Act. Why does this matter? The possibility of ineligible voters at the ballot box creates opportunities for fraud and corruption. As JW President Tom Fitton puts it: “Cleaner voter rolls mean cleaner elections.”
The JW lawsuit noted that studies had shown that a majority of Colorado counties had voter registration rates exceeding 100% of the eligible voting-age population. Think about that for a moment: dozens of Colorado counties were showing the presence of more voters than voting-eligible residents actually residing in the county! Federal data also showed that Colorado was lagging in the process of removing ineligible voter registrations.
According to the JW lawsuit, the voter registration rates and processing issues indicated “an ongoing, systemic problem with Colorado’s voter list maintenance efforts” that injured lawfully registered voters by “undermining their confidence in the integrity of the electoral process, discouraging their participation in the democratic process, and instilling in them the fear that their legitimate votes will be nullified or diluted.”
In March, the Colorado Secretary of State settled the case—a major victory for Judicial Watch, but more importantly, for Colorado voters. Even before the settlement, JW pressure had resulted in a 78% increase of Colorado voter roll removals, from roughly 172,000 to 306,000 per reporting period.
The key element of the Colorado settlement: for the next six years, the state will annually report to Judicial Watch on its progress in cleaning up voter rolls.
But dirty voter rolls are not the only election-integrity issue in Colorado. Last month, we reported on a Judicial Watch white paper on ERIC, the left-leaning Electronic Registration Information Center. Colorado is a member of ERIC. We found plenty of reasons for concern about ERIC, including ineffective voter-roll cleanup and sketchy data sharing practices. The Judicial Watch white paper warned that ERIC data sharing could be in violation of several federal statutes, including the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, which regulates how Department of Motor Vehicle data can be shared.
In fact, DMV data sharing between ERIC and Colorado has landed the state in hot water. In October, Colorado Public Radio reported that Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold had mailed postcards to about 30,000 non-citizens notifying them how they could register to vote. By law, non-citizens are not permitted to vote in state and local elections.
According to the public radio report, “the problem occurred when the state compared a list of potential unregistered voters from a multi-state group [that is, ERIC] Colorado belongs to, with local DMV records. The DMV data included people who hold non-citizen driver’s licenses—which were created to allow people without legal residency to drive legally—but a formatting error caused the system not to flag them as ineligible.”
The public radio report noted that “the postcards, which were printed in English and Spanish and read in part, ‘A message from Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold’ inform the recipient ‘Our records indicate that you or your household may be eligible to vote, but do not appear to be registered at your current address.’”
We’ll be watching Colorado closely in the months and years ahead. You won’t read much about voter roll reform in the national press, but you can read all about it here at Judicial Watch. Nationwide, action by Judicial Watch has resulted in important electoral reforms and the removal of two million names from voter rolls over the past two years.
Stay tuned. There’s more to come.
May 09, 2023
Micah Morrison is chief investigative reporter for Judicial Watch. Follow Micah on Twitter @micah_morrison. Tips: firstname.lastname@example.org
Investigative Bulletin is published by Judicial Watch. Reprints and media inquiries: email@example.com