Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Colorado Democratic Party issues statement on voter suppression in El Paso County

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With Coloradans participating in this election in record numbers, from volunteering to speaking out in their communities to registering to vote, Democrats and Republicans joined together to urge El Paso County election officials to ensure that every eligible voter is able to cast a ballot.

“Coloradans are responding to the change that Democrats up and down the ballot represent in this election, from Barack Obama and Mark Udall on down,” said Pat Waak, Chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party. “I’m encouraged that voters, especially prospective young voters, are registering in record numbers. But when election officials spread false information about who is eligible to vote and remove, not add, polling places, we need to be concerned that eligible voters will be denied their right to vote.”

Waak cited a letter that the office of El Paso County Clerk Bob Balink sent to the office of the Colorado College President warning out-of-state students that they are ineligible to vote if their parents claim them as dependents. The Clerk also urged the President to publish the letter in the student newspaper and the information was added to the school’s website. Approximately 75 percent of Colorado College students are from out of state, and they are, in fact, eligible to register to vote in the state.

“Mr. Balink is wrong on the letter of the law and is disseminating false information to students,” said Martha Tierney, the Colorado Democratic Party’s attorney. “Young adults – even those young people from out of state who are attending school in Colorado – have a right to exercise their franchise if they are United States citizens, 18 years of age.”

In addition to sending false information to Colorado College, Balink removed an early vote location in Fountain, Colorado, and has reportedly failed to process thousands of otherwise legitimate voter registration forms -- actions that could disenfranchise Colorado voters.

State Senator John Morse also expressed concern that Clerk Balink removed an early voting location. “We’ve seen unprecedented turnout during the caucuses and I hope we’ll see a record number of people participate in the general election. It is disturbing that Mr. Balink would remove the early vote location in Fountain. He should restore that site immediately and encourage all eligible voters to vote and correct the record about the eligibility of out-of-state students.

“Voting processes are meant to protect the right of Colorado residents to have a voice in the political process. Instead of creating barriers to participation, election officials should be finding ways to help more people participate,” said Chairwoman Waak.

Colorado College student organizer Ben Slaughter is committed to ensuring that students on his campus have the correct information about their right to vote in Colorado. “Students are excited about the change Barack Obama can bring to Washington, DC. Although Mr. Balink is saying ‘no you can’t,’ we know better… ‘Yes, we can.’”
And I'll add this from the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office

The public is encouraged to e-mail with any questions, concerns, or comments or call the Department Managers listed below:

Elections: (719)520-6222
Motor Vehicle: (719)520-7783

Recording: (719)520-6208
Clerk to the Board: (719)520-6432

You can contact Mr. Balink here:
Robert C. "Bob" Balink
(719) 520-6202
(719) 520-6216