Foundation: Pitkin has more voters than people
September 13, 2015
Pitkin County is one of 10 Colorado counties with more registered voters than people of voting age who live there, according to a legal foundation focused on election integrity.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation wrote letters late last month to each of the Colorado counties, as well as 132 other counties across the country warning that they appeared to be violating the National Voter Registration Act, according to a statement. The number of voters registered in Pitkin County is allegedly 105 percent of the county's population, the statement says.
"The (act) … requires state and local election officials to properly maintain voter rolls and ensure that only eligible voters are registered to vote," the statement says. "Having more registrants than eligible citizens alive indicates that election officials have failed to properly maintain voter rolls."
Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill said she's aware of the foundation's letter and has been in touch with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office, which is crafting a response.
She said resort communities such as Aspen made the list because of the transient nature of the population here coupled with a somewhat complicated state method of purging inactive voters from voter rolls.
Dwight Shellman, a former Pitkin County resident who now works in the secretary of state's election division, agreed with Caudill.
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"It's not an easy process (to purge inactive voters) under federal or state law," he said.
Most of that process dates back to a new law passed by the Colorado Legislature in 2013, Shellman said.
It used to be that if a registered voter didn't cast a ballot in two consecutive general elections, the voter could be purged from the rolls, he said. However, the new law says a voter can be purged only after a piece of mailed election correspondence or a ballot is returned to a clerk's office, Shellman said.
Then the clerk must send a confirmation card to the voter. If the voter doesn't respond to the card and has missed two consecutive general elections, then the voter can be purged from the rolls, Shellman said.
The 2013 law required clerks across the state to return 340,000 purged voters back to voting rolls, Shellman said. He didn't know how many of those inactive voters remain on county voter rolls across the state.
Lynn Bartels, spokeswoman for the Secretary of State's Office, said Friday that a response to the legal foundation's letter wasn't yet available.
The other Colorado counties on the list are Mineral, Hinsdale, San Juan, Ouray, Summit, Dolores, San Miguel, Cheyenne and Boulder.