Documents: ACORN and Project Vote Activity Led to Dramatic Increase in Invalid Colorado Voter Registrations for 2008 and 2010
Percentage of Invalid Voter Registrations from Public Assistance Agencies in Colorado More Than Four Times the National Average in 2009-2010; Sought “Legislative Fix” to allow People without a Driver’s License or State Identification to Register to Vote Online
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it uncovered documents from the Colorado Department of State showing that ACORN and its affiliate, Project Vote, successfully pressured Colorado officials to implement new policies for increasing the registration of public assistance recipients during the 2008 and 2010 election seasons. Following the policy changes, the percentage of invalid voter registration forms from Colorado public assistance agencies was four times the national average.
The documents, obtained pursuant to a June 8, 2011, Colorado Open Records Act request to the Colorado Office of the Secretary of State, include approximately 400 internal emails. They relate to a complaint by ACORN and Project Vote that the state of Colorado was in violation of Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). Under Section 7, states are required to offer voter registration services at all public assistance agencies, including unemployment offices and food stamp offices.As a result of this collaboration between ACORN, Project Vote and Colorado officials, the number of voter registrations at Colorado public assistance agencies rose from 3,340 in 2007 to almost 44,000 in 2010. (In a February 15, 2011,email to Project Vote, Christi Heppard, Special Projects Coordinator for the Elections Division of the Colorado Department of State, wrote, “…I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the numbers.”) However, the collaboration also led to a large number of invalid and duplicate voter registrations. A total of 8% of rejected registration forms came from public assistance agencies in Colorado in 2009-2010. This is more than four times the national average of 1.9% for that same time period.According to the documents, Amy Busefink, who at the time was under indictment on 13 voter registration violation charges in Nevada stemming from her time as regional deputy director for ACORN, later managed the online program for Project Vote nationally, including Colorado.In a May 14, 2008, “pre-litigation” letter, ACORN and Project Vote complained to the State of Colorado that it was in violation of the NVRA, and subsequently set up a meeting with Colorado officials to discuss the matter. According tothe documents, that meeting took place on July 2, 2008, at ACORN’s offices. On June 9, 2009, not satisfied with Colorado’s response, Project Vote election counsel Donald Wine II threatened litigation: “CDHS [Colorado Department of Human Services] has had a year and a half to comply with the NVRA. We are left with no choice but to prepare for litigation.”In response to this threat, the Colorado Office of the Secretary of State evidently went to extreme measures to accommodate ACORN and Project Vote’s demands, including:
- Offering to help push a “legislative fix” to allow people without a driver’s license or state identification to register to vote online. According to a January 27, 2010, email from Director of Division of Elections Judd Choate, “The Secretary’s office would support such a fix. We just need a legislator on board and begin the process of drafting the bill.”
- Sending spreadsheets of voter registration data to Project Vote on a bi-weekly basis for more than two years.
- Posting a Project Vote-produced presentation on the Colorado Secretary of State website.
- Hosting several meetings between Project Vote personnel and representatives of state welfare offices.
- Ensuring that changes to voter registration forms were approved by Project Vote.
Project Vote’s Busefink ultimately entered an Alford plea to two gross misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit the crime of compensation for registration of voters. (An Alford plea is a guilty plea, where the defendant does not admit the act and asserts innocence, but admits that sufficient evidence exists with which the prosecution could likely convince a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.)Democrat Bernie Buescher, who served as Colorado Secretary of State from January 2009 through January 2011, received support from the Secretary of State Project, an organization funded in part by liberal financier George Soros and organized by the leftist group Moveon.org. (In April 2010, Buescher campaigned with former State House Speaker Terrance Carroll for a proposed bill that would have implemented universal mail-in balloting, same-day voter registrations and pre-registration of 16 year olds. Facing stiff opposition from county election clerks, the bill was tabled on April 21, 2010.)According to the documents, while Colorado officials took measures to satisfy the demands of Project Vote related to the registration of public assistance recipients, Buescher sought a waiver from the Obama administration that would allow a delay in sending out ballots in time for the military to vote in the last election. The Department of Defenserejected the request.“The ACORN/Project Vote gang has not gone away, and continues to help generate fraudulent voter registrations that can lead to voter fraud. These emails clearly demonstrate that the corrupt organization ACORN/Project Vote had an inappropriate level of influence over the electoral process in Colorado,” said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. “Colorado officials bent over backwards to abide by the demands of ACORN/Project Vote, which an activist facing criminal charges helped run. So it comes as no surprise that there was a sharp increase in voter registration irregularities. And it is shameful that the concern for voting rights of the citizens of Colorado did not apparently extend to military personnel in the state. If we’re going to protect the integrity of the 2012 elections, attention must be paid to the continuing nefarious activities of ACORN/Project Vote.”
- Colorado NVRA Report, March 2011
- Colorado Project Vote Documents, part 1
- Colorado Project Vote Documents, part 2
- Colorado Project Vote Documents, part 3
- Colorado Project Vote Documents, part 4
- Colorado Project Vote Documents, part 5
- Colorado Project Vote Documents, part 6
- Colorado MOVE Waiver Request
- Colorado MOVE Waiver Denial