It’s Election Time: How to Avoid Colorado Voter Fraud Charges
Posted By: Jacob Martinez
Accusations and fears of voter fraud always heat up around elections. In this post, we’ll tell you what actions specifically constitute voter fraud and how to avoid getting charged.
Does Voter Fraud Really Happen in Colorado?
Yes… technically. Just not very often. In fact, despite the claims of some to the contrary, it’s pretty rare everywhere in our country.
Even the Trump commission on voting integrity had to put out a report saying they did not find widespread evidence of voter fraud in the 2016 general election. The commission noted that 8,400 double voting instances occurred in the 2016 general election across 20 states.
That may sound like a lot, but keep in mind we’re talking about 8,400 instances out of millions of votes.
Speaking of millions, President Trump appointed the commission after claims of 3-5 million illegal votes were made, and some feel that the commission did not investigate the problem well enough to substantiate its findings. These critics say the number could have been much higher among all 50 states, where over 1,000 voter fraud convictions have been handed down since 2000.
Problem is, they don’t really have any facts to back up their beliefs, feelings, and worries. Every bit of evidence we’ve been able to find basically says that voter fraud barely ever occurs.
That being said, “barely ever” doesn’t mean “never,” and two voter fraud cases were recently reported in El Paso County. One man pled guilty to willfully casting 2016 General Election ballots in both Colorado and Washington.
The man retained his 2103 voter registration in Colorado and cast an absentee ballot in the 2016 election, even though he was residing in Washington at that point and also cast a ballot there.
He has been convicted of a misdemeanor, for which he will serve a 12-month deferred sentence. He must perform 30 hours of community service along with paying fees to the court.
Another Colorado woman is facing charges of forgery and voting twice. If convicted, she will face penalties for a class 5 felony.
Two instances may not seem like a lot – but remember, it’s an election year, and few things get people more riled up than the possibility of voter fraud. These two cases are sure to be held up as examples that we’ve got a serious issue and people need to be on the lookout.
Because of this, it is vital that you understand exactly what constitutes voter fraud if you want to make sure you avoid charges.
Actions That Constitute Voter Fraud
The government strongly upholds the civil right of voting and threatens to prosecute anyone who dilutes, steals, or otherwise tampers with the voting process. Whether at the city, county, state, or national level, voting rights are protected by law and can be upheld in court.
To avoid being charged with voter fraud in Colorado, make sure you do not engage in actions such as these.
Impersonating someone else in order to cast a vote is a criminal offense. This includes casting a vote for a person who is incarcerated, who has moved, or who has died.
Using a false name, address, or residence that does not legally belong to you can be prosecuted as voter fraud.
People who are not citizens of the United States, or those who are convicted felons, are prohibited from registering and voting.
Paying someone to vote either by ballot or in person for a certain candidate is a crime.
Voting more than once
Voting or registering in more than one location is a punishable offense. This applies whether the voting or registering occurs within the same jurisdiction or within different jurisdictions.
Fraudulent absentee ballots
Absentee ballots are permitted under strict limitations. Fraudulent use can occur in the following ways:
- Requesting an absentee ballot and voting on someone’s behalf without their knowledge
- Forging a signature on an absentee ballot
- Instructing the absentee ballot voter who to vote for
Any of these actions could result in voter fraud charges.
Forcing or intimidating voters
Influencing someone to vote by force or intimidation is punishable by law. People who are typically vulnerable to these tactics include those who are illiterate, disabled, elderly or do not speak English as their native language.
Changing the vote count
If an election worker tampers with the vote count in a precinct or central voting location, he or she can face fraud charges.
Ballot petitions require valid signatures for listing on the official ballot. If someone forges signatures on the ballot petition, charges can apply.
To learn more about actions that qualify as voting fraud in Colorado, consult with a knowledgeable criminal attorney.
An experienced lawyer may use the following defenses to get your charges reduced or dropped:
- Lack of knowledge
- Lack of intent
- Lack of sufficient evidence
Still, the best defense is to know that law and not make the error in the first place.
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.