Wide probe of potential voter fraud nets two charges

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A four-month investigation by the Arapahoe County district attorney’s office — which included six staffers working more than 300 hours investigating 41 suspects — has turned up two people who voted illegally in recent elections.

More than half of the voters the Colorado Secretary of State’s office asked prosecutors to look at were eligible voters.

District Attorney George Brauchler said he believes voter fraud is a serious issue, but the investigation didn’t uncover much.

“I think there is evidence that there isn’t widespread voter fraud,” he said.

Andrew Cole, a spokesman for Secretary of State Scott Gessler, said the two men charged in Aurora are the only people from Gessler’s list who will face charges. But, Cole said, there is evidence that more people from that list voted illegally, but local prosecutors opted not to charge them with a crime.

Cole said he didn’t know how many of the 155 people voted illegally, but he said the investigations show there is a problem in the state that allows non-citizens to register and vote.

That’s why the investigation, even though it only resulted in charges for two of the 155 people, was important, he said.

“If you ask people about it they would say, ‘I don’t want ineligible people voting,’” he said.

The two Aurora men — a 72-year-old Ethiopian immigrant and a 47-year-old Polish immigrant — are facing misdemeanor charges of procuring false registration.

Two other men who worked for a nonprofit that registered voters have also been charged after prosecutors say they registered voters who were ineligible to vote.

Of the people on Gessler’s list, 27 were registered Democrats, 13 were unaffiliated and one was registered with the Green Party.

Both Gessler and Brauchler are Republicans.

Brauchler said in a statement that investigators determined 21 of the suspects were eligible to vote. Prosecutors weren’t able to find enough evidence to charge another 10, and there were eight that investigators were unable to locate.

Gessler’s list covered the four counties in the 18th Judicial District — Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln — but the vast majority of suspects, 37, were in Arapahoe County.

While the investigation resulted in just four people facing minor charges, Brauchler said he still believes the investigation was a good use of resources.

“Without question I do,” he said. “You don’t know the answer until you start looking.”

If the Secretary of State or a local clerk and recorder presents the DA’s office with further evidence of voter fraud, Brauchler said his office will again investigate.