DENVER Registered voters would have to provide proof of citizenship if challenged by the secretary of state, under a bill the House passed Friday.
Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican, has testified to the Legislature and Congress that he found 106 people on Colorados voter rolls who almost certainly are not U.S. citizens. He does not know if any of them actually voted.
Gessler supports House Bill 1252, which would let him contact voters he suspects of being non-citizens and require them to provide a birth certificate, a passport or another citizenship document.
Without the bill, Gessler would have to resort to criminal prosecutions, said the sponsor, Chris Holbert, R-Parker.
Would you rather receive a letter in the mail or a knock at the door from a prosecutor? Holbert said.
The House passed Holberts bill 34-28 Friday, with one Democrat joining all Republicans to support it.
Voter registration is one of the most partisan topics in the Legislature. Democrats say the bill will keep poor people from voting, while Republicans say citizens are harmed if ineligible voters go to the polls.
Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, called Gesslers study that found 106 possibly illegal registered voters an absolute farce.
The dragnet that is going to be put on to look for these 106 registered voters is going to disenfranchise the low-income, the elderly, Pabon said.
Gessler conducted the study by comparing the states voter registration database to other government databases.
Its a crime for non-citizens to vote, and current law requires voters to affirm their citizenship when they register. But it does not require them to provide a birth certificate or some other proof of citizenship.
The prospects for the bill are bleak in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Reach Joe Hanel at firstname.lastname@example.org