On One Hand

October 6, 2008

Voter Disenfranchisement Update II

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 8:00 am

El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink is under fire for wrongly telling thousands of college students that they are not eligible vote in Colorado.

Federal law allows students to vote in the state they live in for school, even if they claim primary residency elsewhere. Colorado polls will accept a valid Colorado student ID as an acceptable identification for voting. But the Republican county clerk from El Paso sent a letter to all the universities in the county ordering them to notify out-of-state students that they are not allowed to register to vote in Colorado if their parents still claim them as dependents.

Balink has since retracted the statement and assures us that his records show that no one was denied a chance to register to vote because of the mistake. But it’s hard to see how someone who didn’t register because they received false information would show up in the clerk’s records in the first place. It also doesn’t account for students who waited to register until other problems arose that could get in the way of their right to vote.

El Paso County currently has 25,000 forms it is holding unprocessed until after the registration deadline today, which means that any person with mistakes on his or her form will not be notified in time to correct the problem and vote on November 4. County clerks are required to make a “good faith effort” to notify everyone who has turned in an improper form that they need to fill out another form, but Balinks decision makes this effectively impossible since the forms won’t even be looked at until after the deadline. It is conceivable that many students who were confused by Balink’s initial memo and waited an extra month or two to register ended up in that stack of 25,000 and will ultimately not be allowed to vote because of the confusion.

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