Nearly 4,000 letters were mailed last month by Secretary of State Scott Gessler to “suspected noncitizens,” asking that they prove they are eligible to vote or remove themselves from the voter rolls. And, though the state is roughly split evenly between Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters, only 12.45 percent went to Republicans, prompting critics to again question whether the effort is politically motivated. As of Aug. 1, Colorado's registered voters were 35 percent unaffiliated, 33 percent Republicans and 32 percent Democrats.
Gessler, a Republican, has strongly denied the allegation that his effort to block noncitizens from voting is intended to keep left-leaning voters from going to the polls in November. But of the 3,903 letters mailed, the largest number, 1,794 letters, was sent to unaffiliated voters, while 1,566 went to Democrats and 486 to Republicans. The other 57 went to other parties.
Richard Coolidge, communications director for Gessler, said the office did not look at voter affiliation before compiling the list or mailing the letters and that the information was compiled only after the Associated Press requested it. He declined to respond to allegations of partisanship by the secretary of state, calling it "political noise."
The letters were mailed to registered voters who at some point applied for a driver's license using noncitizen identification, such as a green card. Gessler's office has acknowledged that some of those people could have been accidentally registered when they applied for their driver's license or that they may have become citizens since they used the noncitizen ID.
The letters ask recipients to either provide proof of citizenship or remove themselves from the voter rolls. Hearings will be held on any voter who was mailed a letter but does not respond. Gessler has said identifying whether there are noncitizens on the rolls will help ensure the integrity of Colorado elections.
But Colorado Democratic Party chairman Rick Palacio said Monday he worries there may be unintended consequences. Many of the people receiving these letters are being caught up in a rushed process that may fail to follow the law, American citizens who are eligible to vote are being denied their right to do so. Gessler's office has denied a Colorado Open Records Act request from The Denver Post for information on who was mailed letters.