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Sep 24, 2012 1:55 AM by Jacqui Heinrich, jheinrich@koaa.com

Viral voter registration video: the truth from officials

We found the truth behind a YouTube video gone viral. The video shows a young woman standing outside a local grocery store, saying she's registering voters on behalf of the County Clerk, but at one point she says she prefers to register only Republicans.

After speaking with El Paso County Clerk & Recorder Wayne Williams and local Democratic and Republican campaign chairmen, we've learned who the women are in the video and who they're affiliated with.

It comes down to a lot of confusion; confusion on the young woman's part about who exactly she was working for, and confusion from the woman behind the camera on whether anything happening was illegal.

According to Williams, the girl gathering voter registrations does not work for the County office. It turns out she's actually a paid employee for the Colorado Republican Committee.

El Paso County Republican Chairman Eli Bremer says of the girl's confusion, "It was her first day on the job and she panicked. She knew that she was turning in all the registrations to the County Clerk & Recorder's office and she knew that was the appropriate thing to do, and that's how she answered."

So why the confusion? Williams says, "In a sense one could say that they're all gathering voter registrations that eventually come into our office, which I why she probably made the mistake in the video."

It appeared to the woman behind the camera that the young girl was only registering Romney voters, which would have been illegal. But according to Williams, pre-screening voters with preference questions isn't against the law. "You don't have to offer a voter registration form to everybody," he says.

However, denying someone a form based on their survey answers is illegal, which it seems the woman behind the camera thought was going on. It's also illegal for registration gatherers to fail to turn in a voter registration form that they've issued and accepted.

Bremer says the camera woman's choice to release the video just before election time was a campaign tactic. "The person who did this was a campaign operative. She was doing it for political reasons, she sat on the video for a month and now its been released to make political hay out of it, and I think that's just simply unacceptable."

It's an allegation the local Democratic party denies. Christy Lelait, Chairman for the El Paso County Democrats, told News 5, "It's an interesting charge. I don't know of any campaign operatives here in El Paso County and I know for certain that the woman who shot this video is not a campaign operative, she's a volunteer with several different organizations including the El Paso Democratic Party and she's also a precinct chair."

It turns out pre-screening voters isn't something the Democrats do when gathering registrations, making the woman with the camera think something illegal was happening. "I know for a fact the campaign office is not going out and prescreening the people that are registering. They will set up a table with an Obama sign but they don't ask you who you're voting for before you register."

The El Paso County Democrats say the whole incident shows poor training for volunteers at the Romney campaign. They also say the woman who shot the video only held onto it long enough to bleep out the young girl's name so she wouldn't suffer any backlash when the video hit Youtube. They deny the Republicans' charge that the release date was a campaign tactic.

El Paso County Republicans say the whole thing was a ploy to distract voters from the real story of a young girl trying to get the candidate of her choice elected by campaigning within the law.

Officials at the El Paso County Clerk & Recorder's Office say the best way to register to vote is to go to www.govotecolorado.com. If you registered with somebody in person, you can also check that your name spelling is correct and confirm that your form got turned in.

 

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