Colorado election officials granted access to voter citizenship database

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DENVER — Colorado election officials will now be able to determine the citizenship status of some individuals who shows up at a voter booth.

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler was granted access on Monday by the Department of Homeland Security to a database that reveals the citizenship of registered voters. The announcement came less than a week after Gessler said he’d sue the organization if that information remained restricted.

“I’m pleased that DHS has agreed to work with states to verify the citizenship of people on the voter rolls and help reduce our vulnerability,” Gessler said. “Coloradans deserve to know we have these most basic protections for election integrity.”

The access to this information has the power to reveal whether or not every registered voter is in fact a U.S. citizen. Gessler’s office said it will not immediately throw out an individual’s vote if he or she is identified as a non citizen. Instead, the office will send that individual a notification asking if a mistake has been made.

When he had initially requested access to the voter database on July 9, Gessler said he was interested in a group of 5,000 Coloradans, in particular, who identified themselves as non citizens by using such documents as a green card to apply for a Colorado driver’s license.

Critics of this effort believe the actions Gessler, a Republican, are politically-motivated, saying this is nothing more than an attempt to prevent minorities, most of whom tend to support Democrats, from voting.

Joanne Kron Schwartz, with the advocacy group ProgressNow, is among that bunch.

“Gessler joked at an event that a good election is when Republicans win,” she said. “That says a lot about his motives.”