DHS Hands Gessler Voter Purge Victory?

UPDATE: Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler praises the decision in a brief statement:

“As Colorado’s chief election official, protecting our elections is my top priority. I’m pleased that DHS has agreed to work with states to verify the citizenship of people on the voter rolls and help reduce our vulnerability. Coloradans deserve to know we have these most basic protections for election integrity.”


There are conflicting opinions this morning about the full meaning of a decision this weekend by the federal Department of Homeland Security to cooperate, with important restrictions, with the state of Florida’s request for information on non-citizens their Republican governor and Secretary of State believe may be illegally registered to vote. Politico reports today on what will soon most likely be a major story in Colorado:

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Monday an agreement between the Sunshine State and the Department of Homeland Security “creates a path” for other states to purge their voter rolls of non-citizens.

An agreement Sunday between DHS and Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner gives Florida access to the federal SAVE – Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements – database, which should allow the purge to restart. The database lists legal immigrants and green card-holders who aren’t eligible to vote. It doesn’t contain the names of illegal immigrants…

“The right to vote is a sacred right,” Scott said. “We gotta make sure a U.S. citizen’s right to vote is not diluted.”

…Five presidential swing states – Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Colorado and Nevada – are among those hoping to use the DHS database to check their own voter rolls, according to CNN and the Associated Press.

“Hopefully,” Scott said, the agreement “creates a path for other states that have the same concerns.” [Pols emphasis]

We talked this past weekend about the related request from Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler for access to information about some 5,000 registered voters he believes may be illegally registered. Based on a “spot check” of immigration detainee records from local jails, Gessler found 85 possibly illegally registered voters, 29 of whom may have voted since 2010. We haven’t seen any response from Gessler yet to DHS’s agreement with Florida, but there’s a possibility that he won’t find it adequate. Even if he does, everything we said about the possibility of “matching mistakes” made by Gessler doing harm in excess of the “gain” of purging a tiny number of illegal voters applies–mitigated only by the restrictions from DHS impeding that.

Like we said, this is more a question of motives. Previous evidence submitted by Gessler has been found wanting based on the normal rate of naturalization of new citizens. Gessler’s “spot check” uncovered possible problem registrations that, while important, must be put in perspective with all kinds of benign errors that occur in every election. How many babies can tolerably be thrown out with the proverbial bathwater? Is one too many?

Gov. Rick Scott makes clear above which side of the debate he’s arguing from, “dilution,” and Gessler will no doubt agree–with Colorado’s GOP Attorney General John Suthers. A different variable in Colorado is the fact that our governor is a Democrat, and John Hickenlooper could change the game here if he decides to start questioning the process (or motives).

We’ll update when we have a clearer sense what this fluid story means here in Colorado.

15 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. SSG_Dan says:

    …because she got her US Citizen ship last fall, but the DHS still lists her for some reason as a legal resident.

    When this happens, Mr Gessler will be meeting me in a much more personal way than he expected…

    • Libertad says:

      Hopefully you have a scheduled meeting with the Secretary and have not been sending demand messages that the Secretary and CSP view as threats.

      • rocco says:

        First, you have no credibility posting again before completing your explanation of the pinko filibuster of the Democratic SB, extension of the middle class tax cut.

        Secondly, as an individual who has never and will never serve, your bullshit, snarky and disrespectfull reply to SSGT Dan over a  very real voter suppression issue is unacceptable.

        Show some respect for your betters, your right to be the shitbag you are is protected by brave men and women like him.  

      • SSG_Dan says:

        if (actually when) he disenfranchises my wife.

        Hopefully, someday we can meet in person, and you can repeat some of your earlier statements….

  2. “If your office disenfranchises a citizen of this country through this process, do you promise to resign from your office immediately and issue an apology to that citizen?”

  3. ArapaGOPArapaGOP says:

    This is a victory for the right to vote, and for the right of every vote to COUNT. I agree that the numbers will not be very great, but that will only call into question Democrat reluctance to cooperate.

    • They can look up information in the database, but not simply by name and birth date – they have to have a unique ID for someone in order to use the system.  I.e. they can use the system in the same way they’d use it to qualify a beneficiary.

      It’s not going to be earth-shattering.

    • parsingreality says:

      Do you understand how 1984’ish that sounds?

      The potential to disenfranchise citizens is far greater than knocking a few non-citizens off of the rolls.

      I’d be a lot more impressed with the right wings concerns if they had shown the same interest in counting votes in 2000 and 2004.  

      How do you guys keep a straight face?  What hypocrisy.

    • Libertad says:

      have led to inaccurate voter rolls. Putting illegal aliens, properly documented foreign residents and felons in legal jeopardy just to pump up turnout seems like an ineffective solution.

      It’s sad that Democrat policies would abuse people in such a manner.

  4. The restrictions on using the database are the same as those placed on any other access of the system: you can’t simply troll it using a name – you have to provide a unique identifier, e.g. the number on an official certificate of residency.

    This is the kind of access every government database should have (and usually does have); give me something specific to query against and I’ll say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or give you a limited answer.

    Again, provided no citizen is kicked off the rolls in error and no privacy interests are crossed, I see no problem with this kind of query.

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