Less than a month before the November election, the office of Colorado’s secretary of state declined to provide the names of noncitizens who received voter registration notifications by mail, according to records obtained by a watchdog group.   

The Public Interest Legal Foundation released a report Thursday about how Colorado handled sending out 31,093 notifications on how to register to vote to foreign nationals living in the state. 

The notices were supposed to go only to Colorado residents who were eligible to vote but not registered, telling them how to register. 

“Communication records obtained in PILF’s investigation portray a Secretary of State’s Office more focused on damage control than answering questions posed by concerned county election officials,” the report says.

In one email exchange, an official in Moffat County, Colorado, explains that Deputy Secretary of State Christopher Beall refused to provide more information about the 54 foreign nationals who received voter registration notices in his county. 

“Deputy Secretary Beall stated in yesterday’s call that that there are potential legal issues that need to be addressed before a list of erroneous recipients in each county can be shared,” the Moffat County official wrote in an Oct. 11 email after a briefing by state officials.

Spokespersons for Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, did not respond to an inquiry from The Daily Signal for this report. 

Previously, however, spokespersons from Griswold’s office said the mistake with voter data happened as a result of a “data analytic error.” 

“The department has become aware that approximately 30,000 EBU [Eligible but Unregistered] postcard mailers were incorrectly sent to ineligible Coloradans,” a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s Office told Colorado Public Radio in October. 

The postcards, printed in both English and Spanish, told recipients that the contents were “A message from Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold.” 

“Our records indicate that you or your household may be eligible to vote, but do not appear to be registered at your current address,” the postcards read.

It’s not clear whether any of the foreign nationals that got the voter registration notifications signed up to vote or actually voted. 

According to records obtained by the Public Interest Legal Foundation, the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office laid out a four-prong strategy to address the matter when briefing county election officials across the state Oct. 11. 

First, the state planned to send a second mail notification to  recipients saying that the first message was sent in error. Second, Griswold’s office built a mechanism into the state’s online voter registration portal to prevent any of the 31,093 recipients from using the system. 

Third, Griswold’s office scheduled daily comparisons between voter rolls and the state’s tax rolls, which include information on citizenship status. Fourth, the office planned daily comparisons between the 31,093 foreign nationals and statewide voter rolls. 

“Colorado shouldn’t be sending foreign nationals voter registration information,” J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, said in a public statement.

“When they do, the public should be able to see all of the records so we can hold election officials accountable.  Transparency in elections is essential,” Adams said. “This circus right before a federal election shouldn’t happen. Knowing who is to blame and what went wrong is essential to prevent a repeat.”

The foundation’s report goes on to say that no records show that the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office was clear about what “potential legal issues” were associated with the office’s offering voter registration materials to citizens of foreign countries. 

“One possibility is that some of the foreign citizens could have committed an election crime by registering to vote,” the report says, adding:

When the secretary of state of Colorado did not disclose to county election officials the names of the foreigners offered voter registration materials by her office, she hid the ability of the public and law enforcement from ascertaining whether, indeed, foreigners did register to vote as a result of being urged to do so by the Colorado secretary of state.

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