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Thousands of Coloradans have been denied the right to vote because of a policy that may violate federal law. Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman has authorized county clerks to purge newly registered voters under the so-called 20-day rule. Here, county clerks must send non-forwardable letters to newly registered voters. If the mail bounces back to the clerks, then they must remove the voter applicants' names from the rolls.
For weeks, the election season mantra in Colorado has been “vote by mail.” But that advice may cause some problems down the line, when new voters with incomplete registrations don’t receive their ballots. Governor Bill Ritter and several county clerks have consistently urged people to vote by mail this year, a practice thought to alleviate long lines at the polling places on Election Day. As of last week, more than 1.3 million voters in the state had requested mail-in ballots.
Voting rights experts upbraided Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman today for shirking federal law by rejecting as many as 10,000 new voter applications. In a letter to Coffman, representatives of eight organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, Colorado Common Cause and the Fair Elections Legal Network in Washington, D.C., demanded that the Secretary of State’s office direct county clerks to accept applications with minor omissions or technical mistakes.
Colorado's confusing voter registration form has prompted county clerks to reject at least 4,800 new voter applications. And while election officials say there's still time for the applicants to get onto voter rolls, watchdog groups warn of unintended disenfranchisement.
First there was Florida. Then there was Ohio. Will Colorado be next? The state’s got a brand new voter database system, the longest ballot in the nation, and hundreds of thousands of new voter registrations to contend with, all of which raise the specter of chaos at the polls come November. And while elections officials maintain that Colorado can pull off its elections without a hitch, several voter watchdog groups say otherwise.