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What are we really fighting in the fight against electoral fraud?

Francisco Miraval

The interminable saga of Colorado’s Secretary of State to “purge” illegal voters from official records is approaching soap-opera-like characteristics. However, there is nothing funny or entertaining about an initiative that now includes the federal government and that may have “unintended” consequences for voters, including affecting election results.

Last year, Colorado’s Secretary of State, Scott Gessler (republican), suggested that up to 10,000 people could have been illegally included in the official list of 1.5 voters in this state. In other words, it was problem affecting a mere 0.006 percent of the voters.

That number was later reduced to 4,000 “illegal” (or non-citizen, or not authorized) voters, and even later the number was thought to be 2,500. Las week, it was announced that 85 illegal voters were detected. However, it was later established that the real number was only 29, a percentage so small among the 1.5 million voters that we would need many zeros to print it.

In fact, the percentage is so small that, as many Colorado county clerks said, it is within the acceptable margin of error. Perhaps somebody just made an unintentional mistake in completing the voter registration form. Or perhaps there was a human or equipment problem while processing the form.

In addition, registering to vote is not an easy process, as I discovered in 2005 soon after becoming an American citizen. In fact, I think only those who really want to vote complete the process.

One more thing: even if all 29 “illegal” voters would participate in the elections in Colorado, or even if that number happens to climb to 10,000, the percentage is still so small that they will not alter the elections results.

Why, then, such a determination to solve the problem, including the mobilization of people and resources of three state government agencies? And why asking for the intervention and help of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)?

Colorado is still waiting to receive an answer from DHS, but Florida already got an answer: election officials in Florida can access now DHS databases to determine the citizenship and identity of alleged illegal voters in that state.

That is the real reason for all this almost irrational efforts: state officials can now access federal databases to see if somebody is legally here or not, something that before only the federal government verified.

Republicans in Florida (and surely Republicans in Colorado will soon do the same) celebrated the DHS decision as a “victory” in the fight against alleged “electoral fraud.” However, how do we know that state officials will not misuse the information obtained from the DHS database?

If the database is misused, that will not be the first time. A couple of years ago, unscrupulous public employees in Utah published a list of “undocumented immigrants,” obtained from a local government database. That shows that public databases can be used for other not authorized purposes.

I wonder who the real target of this anti-electoral fraud initiative is and what price we will all ultimately pay.  

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