February 21, 2024
Voting is more important than ever. This year, many Americans have taken the voting process, whether it applies to midterms or smaller elections, far more seriously. Each citizen has more pressure on them to register, show up, and make their voice heard. It’s a privilege that many people have fought for (and many people are still fighting for) in this country.
To ensure your vote counts (and you don’t get into trouble), make sure that you are voting correctly and legally this year. It’s not always as easy as it sounds!
Case-in-point: You may have seen the rather strange recent news story about a former GOP chairman who committed voting fraud. While his excuse for the fraud was not enough to get his charges dropped, it shows that committing voting fraud could be an accident — one that results in felony charges.
“Diabetic Episode” Allegedly Causes Voting Fraud
Here’s the story. Former Colorado GOP Chairman Steve Curtis was arrested on charges of voter fraud after he filled out his ex-wife’s absentee ballot in October 2016. His ex-wife was alerted of the crime after she called the state in order to get her ballot and was told she had already voted.
Why did Curtis vote as his ex-wife? He blames the incident on a “diabetic episode.” Curtis told the judge that he doesn’t remember opening, filling out, and mailing his ex-wife’s ballot.
In order to make the ballot “legitimate,” voters have to sign the document themselves, which means that Curtis forged his ex-wife’s signature. Forgery is a felony in Colorado.
It’s probably no surprise to hear that his excuse did not move the judge. Curtis was convicted of voting fraud and sentenced to four years of probation and 300 hours of community service.
One thing to remember about felony crimes in Colorado: felons who are incarcerated or on parole cannot vote. If Curtis had ended up in jail for his crimes, he would have possibly lost the right to vote at all in the upcoming election.
Other Forms of Voting Fraud in Colorado
This case was certainly a strange story, but most cases of voting fraud in Colorado are not so strange.
You may remember the cases of voting fraud from El Paso County. Two people were convicted of forgery after they cast ballots in two states.
Seems like an obvious no-no, right?
However, it could have been an honest mistake if the voters were confused about the laws.
The point? Make sure you know how to vote legally during this election:
- Each citizen only gets one vote. Not one vote in Colorado; one vote, full stop. Even if you have property in multiple states, you are still one citizen.
- Citizens who have not legally registered, or falsely register to vote, may also face charges. When you go to the polls, make sure that you vote under the correct name and address where you live.
- Citizens cannot vote for another person. Even if your spouse, child, or friend cannot make it to the polls on Election Day, you cannot vote for them.
- This election is particularly tense. Emotions may run high, but if you are found to be pressuring or intimidating voters, you may face criminal charges in Colorado. You can certainly join organizations or help individual voters get to the polls, but do not pressure them to vote one way or the other. Each voter has the right to their opinion and voice.
Stay informed this election, and thank you for voting!
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.