Voting is one of the privileges and rights of US citizenship. Both naturalized citizens and those who are US citizens by birthright can vote in elections in order to shape the government. To take part in shaping the laws of the country, residents need to go through the process of citizenship. However, the Secretary of State in Colorado is concerned that some noncitizens have been casting their votes.
Scott Gessler, the Secretary of State in Colorado is tackling illegal voting, saying that it is an issue in many states but few states are taking concrete action against the problem. According to Gessler and other legislators, some non-citizens are registering to cast ballots. According to the office of the Colorado Secretary of State, approximately 4500 registered voters in Colorado may not be US citizens. About 2000 of those voters cast their votes in the 2010 election.
Some legislators have asked Gessler to name those registered voters he believes may not qualify to vote, but Gessler has shied away from doing so until his office can sort out who on the list is and is not a US citizen. He has stated that he does not want to accuse anyone until he has more information about anyone who may have voted illegally.
Gessler has asked the Department of Homeland Security to help determine who on the list is a naturalized US citizen. In many cases, the names appeared on a Colorado driver’s license, where the names were identified as belonging to a noncitizen. However, those same names later appeared on the voter registration list. Gessler has admitted that some of the names on the list may simply have become citizens before the 2010 election, making them eligible to vote, but had not yet changed their status on their driver’s licenses.
Gessler has stated that he has sought advice from Attorney General John Suthers and from attorneys. Based on this advice, he has decided not to release the names in question to county clerks.
In 2011, Gessler introduced legislation which would have allowed a secretary of state to question voter citizenship. That law was defeated in Senate. Now, Gessler has stated that it has taken him some time to secure assistance from the Department of Homeland Security regarding the issue, which has been frustrating, he has said.