Colorado raises eyebrows with ‘accidental’ mailing of 30,000 voter registration notices to noncitizens

The midterm elections are four weeks away so the get-out-the-vote effort is in full swing and, as Americans have heard the claim ad nauseam that 2020 was the “freest and fairest election,” a postcard on voter registration sent to non-citizens suggested we may only go downhill from there.

Friday, Colorado Public Radio News drew attention to Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s (D) office and a mailer that had been issued forth reminding recipients of eligibility requirements and of the Oct. 17 registration deadline in both English and Spanish. As it turned out, roughly 30,000 Coloradans who are not legal U.S. citizens were included on the postcard distribution list.

Perhaps she hadn’t yet heard news of the error, but by Sunday, Griswold boasted on Twitter, “As Secretary of State, I’ve worked to make voting more accessible for everyone. That’s why I passed Automatic Voter Registration, which has registered 350,000 eligible Coloradans!” prompting one person to fill her in via link.

The postcard had gone out on Sept. 27 as part of a contract Colorado, along with more than 30 other states and Washington, D.C., made with the Electronic Registration Information Center. ERIC is a nonprofit organization supposedly dedicated to improving voter rolls.

Griswold’s office had composed the list of recipients by comparing records of 102,000 people from ERIC to the Department of Revenue’s driver’s license list which, it turned out, had not excluded non-citizens provided with a special license to allow them to drive legally in Colorado.

A spokesperson for the office stated, “The Department has become aware that approximately 30,000 EBU [Eligible But Unregistered] postcard mailers were incorrectly sent to ineligible Coloradans. The office is undertaking an internal review of the incident and will take any corrective action that is warranted.”

The Associated Press’s coverage of the incident specifically referred to the happenstance as a “database glitch,” drawing as much criticism as the distribution of the postcards.

Colorado’s Republican Party chair Kristi Burton Brown called out the egregious mistake while voter integrity has remained heavily in doubt for many and said, ”Jena Griswold continues to make easily avoidable errors just before ballots go out.”

The reported mistake was cause for some to remind of other suspicious stories that seemed in favor of one-side leading into the 2020 presidential election.

Assurances were later provided indicating that the fact that it was discovered that 30,000 non-citizens received these postcards was proof the system was working, or so the director of the Voting Rights Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, Sean Morales-Doyle, would suggest.

“It should show, first of all, that mistakes can happen, but secondly that there are checks in place to make sure mistakes don’t result in disaster. It’s not good this happened. It appears to be a case of human error and a database error and not some conspiracy, which I think some critics would seize on,” Morales-Doyle said, according to the AP.

Griswold’s office stated that they are taking corrective measures including issuing a new postcard reminding the non-citizens of eligibility requirements and the penalties, up to deportation, should they violate the law. It was also said that they would continue to check the rolls daily, cross-referencing the list to see if any of the non-citizens did register.

The secretary is seeking reelection after serving her first term and is facing Republican challenger Pam Anderson, the former Jefferson county clerk.

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Kevin Haggerty

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