Arapahoe DA Brauchler charges four after voter fraud investigation

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DENVER — Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler has charged four individuals with misdemeanors after a lengthy voter fraud investigation of more than 40 people.

The investigation started last summer after Secretary of State Scott Gessler informed Brauchler’s office of 41 people in the 18th Judicial District who appeared as thought they might have been voting illegally.

After 300 hours of investigating, the district attorney’s office found that 21 of the 41 individuals were in fact eligible to vote and that proof against 10 others was inconclusive.

Eight other individuals couldn’t be tracked down.

Two were charged for voting illegally, immigrants from Africa and Poland: Tadesse Degefa, 72, and Vitaliy Grabchenko, 47, who both live in Aurora.

“This is evidence that voter fraud isn’t epidemic,” said Brauchler. “But it also shows that our system is ripe for voter fraud.”

Two other individuals, canvassers working for a liberal organization who were not referred by Gessler’s office, were also charged with the crime of “procuring false registration.”

They are Michael Michaelis, 41, of Brighton, and Carl Blocker, 51.

Michaelis was working for the group, Work For Progress, at the time of the alleged misconduct; Blocker was working for another group, Grass Roots Voter Outreach, subcontracted by Work For Progress.

Just Thursday, FOX31 Denver reported that a paid signature gatherer in an effort to recall state Sen. Evie Hudak was caught on tape encouraging a person who lives outside the lawmaker’s district to sign a recall petition anyway using a friend’s address.

Brauchler says it’s all the more reason, on top of the evidence collected by his office, to address holes in the voter registration and petition process, possibly with legislation next year.

“We need to have a system where canvassers know there’s accountability at the end of the day,” Brauchler said.

Procuring False Registration is an unclassified misdemeanor punishable by up to 18 months in jail and or a fine of up to $5,000.

The arrests are the first to stem from Gessler’s investigations into voter fraud.

In 2011, he told Congress that he believed as many as 5,000 people had voted illegally in the previous year’s election.

In July 2012, his office turned over 155 names over to district attorneys around the state for investigation.

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