Colorado secretary of state says office accidentally sent 30,000 voter registration notices to noncitizens

About 30,000 non-US citizens living in Colorado were mistakenly sent postcards late last month urging them to register to vote.

Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s office said the postcards were mistakenly sent Sept. 27 after department staff compared a list of names of 102,000 people provided by the Electronic Registration Information Center to a database of driver’s licenses issued to Colorado residents.

FILE: Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold speaks during a committee meeting in Baton Rouge, La., July 8, 2022.

FILE: Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold speaks during a committee meeting in Baton Rouge, La., July 8, 2022.
(AP Photo/Matthew Hinton, File)

This list of driver’s licenses from the Department of Revenue includes residents who are issued special licenses to persons who are not US citizens. But it did not include formatting information that would normally have allowed the State Department to remove those names before the records went out, Griswold’s office said.

The Colorado postcards, in English and Spanish, state that residents must be US citizens and at least 18 years old to register. They tell recipients how to sign up, but are not a registration form.

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Griswold’s office said it was unaware that any non-citizens who received the postcards in error had tried to register, and that no one will be allowed to register to vote even if they try.

Her office is now sending notices to the roughly 30,000 people who are not citizens but who received the postcards in error. It also employs multiple efforts to prevent or deny non-voters from registering, including comparing social security numbers required for each application on a daily basis. County officers will also refer suspect cases to local district attorneys for review.

The incident is under investigation, it says. Colorado Public Radio News first reported the error. The news comes amid widespread distrust of vote integrity following the 2020 presidential election.

FILE Photo: Judge of Elections Mary Ann Thompson, front, checks ballots at the counting section of the Denver Elections Division in Denver, Colo., Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020.

FILE Photo: Judge of Elections Mary Ann Thompson, front, checks ballots at the counting section of the Denver Elections Division in Denver, Colo., Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020.
(Photo by Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Colorado Republican Party Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown condemned Griswold for the error, saying in a statement Monday that “Jena Griswold continues to make easily avoidable mistakes right before the ballots go out” as of mail on October 17.

Griswold, who has touted his role as a national advocate for safe elections, is seeking re-election in the November midterms. She faces Republican Pam Anderson, a former suburban Denver clerk and head of the state’s county clerks association who is a staunch proponent of Colorado’s mail-in voting system.

Colorado is among at least 18 states, along with the District of Columbia, that issue driver’s licenses to non-U.S. citizens, according to the National Council on State Legislatures. Colorado also automatically registers eligible voters when they obtain their driver’s license from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

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The Electronic Registration Information Center, known as ERIC, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving American voter rolls and encouraging registration. About 33 states and the District of Colombia belong to the group. Under its contract with ERIC, Colorado sends an email to eligible residents urging them to register each election cycle.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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