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Colorado voters had a relatively smooth ride in the polling places on Tuesday. But not so for this reporter. I was ejected from a Ruby Hill voting site in Denver, with one election worker threatening to call the police. Why? Because I was trying to do my job.
It's not over yet. With Election Day just around the bend, questions about Colorado's ability to pull off the big event have only mounted in recent days. Over the past two weeks, the Colorado Independent has published a Friday digest of the most important election administration news of that week. We've steered you through all sorts of wreckage: county clerks defying Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman in accepting incomplete voter registrations, Coffman admitting that he purged thousands of voters from the state rolls, El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink trying to stop students from registering, and on and on and on.
U.S. District Judge John Kane has scheduled an emergency hearing for 1 p.m. MDT Friday to hear complaints by voting rights advocates that Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman continues to cull names from the voting rolls in defiance of a deal the judge brokered two days ago.
Tracking election data in Colorado is kind of like approaching a water mirage on a long car trip. Just when you think you've reached that shimmery puddle of water on the highway, it disappears. One minute, The New York Times reports that 1.4 million of the state's registered voters have requested mail-in ballots, and then, within a matter of days the number ups to 1.5 million. It's enough to make a journalist (or anyone else who tracks this stuff) go crazy and start using overblown, flowery metaphors.
Homeless people who registered to vote in Colorado risk being ejected from voter rolls if they don't pick up a confirmation letter sent by their county clerk. The problem has less to do with partisan politics than with the nature of homelessness and the complexities of life without a permanent address. In any case, advocates estimate only about half of homeless people cast their vote.
Journalist Greg Palast — famous for uncovering disenfranchisement of black voters during the 2000 Florida election while working for the BBC — has just finished a cross-country tour investigating allegations of voter fraud in numerous battleground states, and says that Colorado could be the scene of wide-spread election problems.
In a hastily arranged news conference, Secretary of State Mike Coffman released figures on "cancelled voters" that directly contradict a Oct. 9 front page investigative report published in the New York Times on massive and possibly illegal purges of registered voters from state voter rolls.
The New York Times reports that tens of thousands of eligible voters have been illegally removed from the rolls in Colorado and five other swing states. And what does Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman have to say? Nothing. Oh wait! Nothing to say, that is, until the story comes out.