Colorado

Sep 9, 2013 8:55 PM by Andy Koen

Fraudulent votes will be counted in recall

COLORADO SPRINGS - A stunt aimed at exposing flaws in new state election laws could land a Boulder man in jail. Jon Caldera has a home in Boulder, but on Saturday, he voted in the recall election of State Senator John Morse in Colorado Springs.

Caldera, who is president of the conservative think tank the Independence Institute, wanted to show how easily same day registration provision of Colorado's new election law can be manipulated by so called "gypsy voters."

"I wanted to show that the new law allows people to move around on the day of an election to go to where their vote is most needed and that was the intent of House Bill 1303," Caldera said.

Under House Bill 1303, anyone who has been in the state for at least 22 days and has a utility bill, cell phone bill, student ID card or other proof of their address can register to vote.

Caldera pays a week-to-week lease at a home in Morse's state senate district and signed the self-affirmation statement required to register. However, he left the ballot he cast blank.

"I wanted this to be about this new law. I didn't want it to be a distraction as part of the Morse recall," Caldera said.

El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams said people suspected committing fraud will prosecuted.

"If you don't live in the district and we learn that we will also turn it over to the DA to prosecute," Williams said.

Voter fraud is a Class 6 felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison. Amy Runyon-Harms, executive director of the liberal group ProgressNow Colorado called for charges to be filed against Caldera in a news release issued Saturday.

"Jon Caldara has gone too far this time," said Runyon-Harms. "Colorado election law is crystal-clear: giving false information regarding one's residence to vote is a felony."

Even if Caldera is proven to have committed a crime, his ballot will still count.

"That ballot is placed in with all the others, it's indistinguishable from them," Williams said. "We make sure that your secrecy of the vote is protected in that way and so the only alternative then is to prosecute afterwards."

In El Paso County, 122 people have used the new same day registration. In Pueblo County there have been 39. Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz said most of those voters recently turned 18 years old.

"Under the old law, we would have had to 29 days before the election, we would have stopped allowing them to register and denied their right to vote and under this law we were able to give them a ballot the same day they registered."

House Bill 1303 was passed by Democrats on a party-line vote at the end of the last legislative session. News 5 reached out the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office about Mr. Caldera's vote and we were told Dan May was out of the office for the day.

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