El Paso Clerk forwarded Vander Veen vote fraud complaint for investigation

Case not tied to hotly debated election reform law HB 1303

El Paso Clerk forwarded Vander Veen vote fraud complaint for investigation

 
The El Paso County Clerk’s office has confirmed that it forwarded a complaint to investigative authorities that alleges former staffer Alissa Vander Veen committed voter fraud in the state senate recall election the county held this summer.

“The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office is committed to upholding all the laws the office is tasked with administering,” read a release sent to the Colorado Independent yesterday afternoon.

“The citizens of El Paso County should know that our office has the integrity to refer any case appropriate for investigation regardless of a person’s current or past connection with this office or its staff.  Furthermore, the citizens should know that a uniform standard is applied equally and fairly to all individuals about whom questions have been raised.”

Vander Veen was chief deputy and communications manager with the Clerk’s office for years, before taking a job in the spring with Challenger Homes, a Colorado Springs-based home building company. A longtime Colorado Springs political insider, she apparently moved out of El Paso to Pueblo in November of last year, but voted in the Colorado Springs special election.

Vander Veen has not returned calls or emails seeking comment since the Independent broke the story Monday morning.

This isn’t the first time El Paso Clerk Wayne Williams has had to field questions about Vander Veen ethics.

Last year, the Colorado Springs Independent reported that she was working simultaneously for Clerk Williams’s team running the elections and as part of a campaign team for one of the candidates seeking office.

Williams defended her then, explaining that she was well within her rights to engage in political activities, as long as it was on her own time and didn’t make use of municipal equipment or supplies.

This time, Vander Veen is not one of his employees, the charge seems to be more serious and Clerk Williams is running for secretary of state.

Indeed, he has made headlines for opposing the Voter Access and Election Modernization Act, a reform law passed in the spring aimed at increasing voter turnout and bringing election administration into the digital age. He testified at the capitol that the law opened elections up to fraud and he is selling himself to voters now as an experienced clerk dedicated to election integrity.

Last month, when he referred to the El Paso district attorney the names of 18 individuals suspected of voter mischief in the recall election, including the name of former staffer Vander Veen, he struck the kind of high tone campaign consultants like to run in campaign ads.

“We take all possible instances of potential vote fraud seriously,” he said. “Anyone who commits an elections crime has shown a blatant disrespect for one of our country’s most sacred rights and has violated the community’s trust.”

The state attorney general’s office is looking into the Vander Veen case, as it is investigating the case tied to Independence Institute President Jon Caldara, who specifically meant to test the new election law by registering to vote in El Paso even though he is a longtime resident of Boulder County.

Ryan Parsell, spokesman for the El Paso clerk’s office, said 11 of the 18 fraud complaints it sent to be investigated were understood among staffers to be tied to potential loopholes in the new election law.

He added that Vander Veen’s case was not one of those.

“I can confirm that we did not consider that case to be related” to the election reform law, he said.

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About the Author

Tessa Cheek

She writes and makes photos about communities. Her book, Great Wall Style, a monograph-profile-lyric essay, is out from Images Publishing. tcheek@coloradoindependent.com | 720-440-2527 | @tessacheek

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