Independence Institute President Jon Caldara says news that the attorney general is investigating former El Paso County Clerk staffer Alissa Vander Veen for voter fraud is not really surprising. For months he has been arguing and trying to demonstrate that a new law that put in place same-day registration in Colorado encourages troublemaking at the polls.
Caldara said he doesn’t remember ever speaking to Vander Veen or know anything about her case, but he added that he thinks the state’s Voter Access and Election Modernization Act “basically legalizes voter mischief.”
It’s odd that anyone would take issue with people simply exercising “their new voting rights,” he said. “Maybe instead of getting angry at any of those people, they should fix the damn law.”
Democrats, with the support of most of the state’s county clerks, passed the sweeping law last session, looking to increase voter turn out and up the efficiency of election administration for the digital age. Caldara joined Republican lawmakers in opposing the bill. He said so-called gypsy voters wold now be able to game the system by registering the day of the election wherever they wanted to vote in the state. Critics said the complaint was fear mongering and pointed out that state laws preventing voter fraud had not changed.
But Caldara, no stranger to the world of showy political statement, was determined to test the system. He posted a website encouraging “gypsy voting” and, although a longtime resident of Boulder County, he filed a transparently bogus registration in El Paso County and cast a blank ballot in the heated recall election there this summer.
“You know there’s an investigation on me as well,” Caldara said, deadpan. “That’s par for the course when there’s a complaint filed, the DA has to look at it. If the DA is conflicted, then he has to bump it up to the AG’s office… That’s not unusual, not necessarily nefarious.”
El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams reportedly passed the names of 18 individuals suspected of committing voter fraud in that recall election over to the county DA — ten Democrat, four Republican and four unaffiliated voters. The Independent broke news yesterday that Vander Veen was being investigated. Caldara remains the only voter under investigation to voluntarily go public.
“I voted very legally in that election and I’m sure others did too, even if the people who promoted same day registration squawk about it,” he said.
Like Caldara, Vander Veen is a longtime political insider and worked for years in the El Paso clerk’s office. She has given no indication that she ever meant to protest voter laws.