District Attorney Bruce Brown: Non-citizen voter fraud suspicions unfounded
Ryan Summerlin September 5, 2013
Suspicions of voter fraud in the 5th Judicial District of Colorado are unfounded, according to a news release issued last week by the district attorney’s office.
In July, at the request of Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, 5th Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown and his staff launched an investigation into three people suspected of being non-citizens who may have illegally cast an electoral ballot as far back as the year 2000. Statewide, the Secretary of State’s Office identified 157 voters as being potential non-citizens.
By law, when the secretary of state requests a district attorney to investigate voter fraud, the office has a duty to comply and then prosecute persons who have committed a crime, the release stated.
On Aug. 30, the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office announced it had concluded its investigation and determined the three voters in question were either United States citizens — legally eligible to participate in the electoral process — or their alleged ineligibility took place outside of the statute of limitations. Local findings are consistent with those statewide, the release stated. Few if any of the 157 suspected non-citizens could have been accused of voter fraud in recent elections.
Rich Coolidge, a spokesman for the Colorado secretary of state, said Tuesday he was surprised by Brown’s determination that the non-citizen suspicions were “unfounded.”
“Outside the statute of limitations doesn’t mean that a person didn’t commit voter fraud, it means that they can’t be prosecuted for it,” Coolidge said. “That’s why we’re trying to remove these people from the voter rolls. It’s a no-win situation for everyone because voting in an election illegally is a felony and it can also jeopardize a person’s ability to apply for citizenship.”
Committing voter fraud is punishable by Colorado law and carries a penalty of up to three years in the Colorado Department of Corrections, the release stated.
Coolidge further questioned the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s leap that local findings were consistent with investigations being conducted throughout Colorado. To date, Gessler has not yet received investigation summaries from a majority of the state’s district attorneys, Coolidge said, including those serving Colorado’s most populous Front Range jurisdictions, such as Boulder County’s 20th Judicial District.
But Catherine Olguin, spokesperson for the 20th Judicial District, said the district attorney there launched investigations into 17 suspected non-citizens and determined no voter fraud had been committed.
In light of the investigation, Brown also is releasing the results of investigations into questionable ballots performed at the request of local clerks.
In Summit County, a district attorney’s office investigator, in conjunction with Summit County Clerk and Recorder Kathy Neel, examined 19 ballots that raised suspicions. The investigator was able to establish legal voter registration for 16 of the 19 people in question, the release stated.
Two of the three remaining voters could not be contacted and the third has moved out of state and was uncooperative with the investigation.
In Eagle County, district attorney’s office investigators, in conjunction with information provided by Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Teak Simonton, examined 69 ballots that came into question. It was determined that no fraud was committed in 65 instances. Four individuals were not contacted based on lack of available contact information, the release stated.
“This investigation was conducted because we take the issue of voter fraud very seriously and we are gratified to learn that the evidence suggests we do not have identifiable issues about voter integrity,” Brown said in the release. “Furthermore, our local elections officials do an outstanding job of overseeing a fair process.”
All investigations have been closed and no charges will be filed in any case within the 5th Judicial District, the release stated.