Lawsuit: Thousands of voters illegally purged in Colorado
Nick Cargo and David Edwards
Published: Tuesday October 28, 2008

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Election watchdog groups are accusing the Colorado Secretary of State of purging up to 30,000 voters in violation of federal law.

Common Cause of Colorado, Mi Familia Vota, and the Service Employees International Union have filed suit in U.S. District Court in Denver. The suit seeks to prevent any more voters from being removed in violation of the National Voting Rights Act of 1993, which mandates that a voter cannot be removed from the rolls less than 90 days before an election except due to felony conviction, death, incapacitation or a specific request to be removed. Also sought is a preliminary injunction to restore the names of those removed. The case is expected to be heard Wednesday morning. (A PDF copy of the complaint is available at THIS LINK.)

CSU student Alexandra Vitale is one voter whose registration was nullified with no explanation: "I said to them...I'm not dead, and I haven't moved, so why did this happen? And they said they didn't know." Voters unable to re-register in time will be allowed to cast provisional ballots and challenge their county clerk's office.

"We are not systematically purging any voter registrations," Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman told KCNC-TV. "I continue to believe," he added in a statement, "that Colorado has followed all applicable laws and look forward to concluding this case quickly and in the best interest of the state. Voters can rest assured that maintaining accurate voter rolls is our top priority."

Coffman further said that 14,049 records were removed starting July 21, 2008, but they were people who moved or had duplicate registrations. The state, Coffman said, did find 2,454 duplicate records that were cancelled inside the 90-day window.

Coffman has faced scrutiny over the rejection of thousands of applications due to an unchecked box. People without Colorado ID numbers are instructed on the form to check a box and fill in the last four digits of their Social Security number. While a 1971 federal law mandates that incomplete voter forms be processed if eligibility can be confirmed, the registrations in question were not completed. Eight signatories sent a letter to Coffman urging him to allow such applications to be processed, warning of the potential for massive voter disenfranchisement. Coffman, backed by Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, maintained on Tuesday that approximately 5,000 voters who didn't check the appropriate box on the forms would have to correct their applications or remain ineligible per state law. "The opinion from the attorney general makes it clear that the treatment of these voter registrations as incomplete is the only option available under state law," Coffman said. "The assertion that there is conflict within the law is simply not the case."

The accompanying video report was broadcast on KCNC-TV on October 28, 2008:

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