Voters keep un-registering in Colorado. Most of them are Democrats.

Voters keep un-registering in Colorado. Most of them are Democrats.

Hundreds more voters in Colorado took themselves off the rolls following news that a presidential commission set up by Donald Trump asked states for its voters’ personal information.

The latest figures from the Secretary of State’s office— as of July 14— show 3,738 voters cast off their franchise. The state has slightly more than 3.7 million registered voters. Looking at the party breakdown, far more Democrats than Republicans un-registered— to the tune of 2,037 to 367. As for unaffiliated voters, 1,255 un-registered to vote.

As of July 13, the total number of unregistered voters since June 29 was 3,394. Until today, the party breakdown was unknown.

Leading the fleeing voter stats for third parties in Colorado is the Green Party with 40 un-registered members in recent weeks. Thirty-four Libertarians jumped ship.

Meanwhile, 104 Democrats and nine Republicans asked to become confidential voters in Colorado, signing in-person affidavits with their local election clerks saying they worry about their safety or about criminal harassment if their personal information isn’t kept secret.

Voters across the state have been un-registering since news broke on June 29 that Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity asked for each voter’s name, birth year, party affiliation and where and when they voted in Colorado. That information is already publicly available for anyone who asks for it in Colorado under the state’s open records laws.

Related: Indy Weekly Podcast, Episode 9: Colorado at the heart of the national voting wars

Colorado GOP Secretary of State Wayne Williams planned to honor the request on July 14, but the commission asked him to hold off because of a legal challenge from a national privacy group.  

County elections officials across Colorado told The Colorado Independent that voters don’t want their personal information going to the current presidential administration. Some officials have urged voters not to unregister.

“If you de-register they win,” said Denver elections director Amber McReynolds.

Trump set up his commission, which is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and co-chaired by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach who is running for governor, ostensibly to investigate voter fraud. Trump has said, without evidence, that millions of illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election he won. Voter fraud is very rare in the United States. 

News that thousands of voters un-registered in Colorado following the commission’s data request made national news.

On July 13, Kobach reacted to it during an appearance on a podcast produced by the far-right news website Breitbart.

“It could be a number of things,” Kobach said about why voters here might be leaping off the rolls. “It could be actually people who are not qualified to vote. Perhaps someone who’s a felon— is disqualified that way— or someone who is not a U.S. citizen saying, ‘I’m withdrawing my voter registration because I am not able to vote.’ It could be a political stunt— people who are trying to discredit the commission and withdrawing temporarily because they are politically active but planning to get back on the voter rolls before the election next November.”

County elections officials in Colorado blistered the claims.

“We have no reason or data to suggest that the voters who have withdrawn their voter registration were not eligible electors,” Arapahoe County elections head Matt Crane, a Republican, told the website Colorado Politics. “I think any comments to the contrary are irresponsible and only further undermine our citizen’s confidence in how our elections our conducted. It is extremely unfortunate that the President’s Commission has brought out the worst in political activists from all sides. Once again, when this happens, it is our citizens that feel the negative effect of this irresponsible, fact-starved dialogue.”

Denver’s McReynolds, an unaffiliated voter, said she believes it “disingenuous” to label the in-state reaction as a political stunt, adding, “voters have told us directly their withdrawals are due to privacy concerns.”

Secretary of State Williams said he hopes those who left will come back on the rolls, and reiterated that no information about them that isn’t already public will go to the commission.

Colorado Democratic Party Chairwoman Morgan Carroll says she strongly discourages voters from unregistering and urges those who already did to sign back up. “They don’t want more people to vote,” she told The Colorado Independent about Trump and a commission she believes exists to make a case for getting more people off the rolls in the future. People in Colorado who are most likely to unregister themselves, she says, are Democratic or Democratic-leaning voters who are most alarmed by what Trump is doing.

In Colorado registering to vote is easy and can be done online— and on the same day as an election.

Upon learning thousands in their state had taken themselves off the voter rolls, some Coloradans worried whether it’s the right move.

After hearing about the latest numbers and party affiliation, Daniel Cole, spokesman for the Colorado Republican Party, blamed left-leaning activists for trying to score points against the state’s GOP secretary of state rather than explaining how voter information is already public.

“Now they are reaping the consequences,” he said.

Meanwhile, a liberal group in Colorado, ProgressNow, has requested the publicly available information of voters who un-registered in 10 counties, according to Pulp newsmagazine in Pueblo.

“I am fully aware of the irony and embrace it wholeheartedly,” the group’s director, Ian Silverii, told the publication, adding the goal is to get those voters to re-register and educate them about what voting records are public in Colorado.

 

Photo by Tony Webster for Creative Commons on Flickr.

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About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyHutchins and email him at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.

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