Voter Suppression In Colorado By Republican Clerk

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Republican county clerk Robert Balink lied to Colorado College students, telling them that if they’re from outside the state they could not register to vote if their parents claimed them as dependents on their tax returns. It seems that Balink’s shenanigans are being used by election officials in Virginia and South Carolina as well. More from McClatchy Newspapers:

At a news conference in Colorado Springs, Democrats also criticized Robert Balink, the El Paso County clerk and recorder, who was a delegate to the Republican National Convention, for taking other steps they said would dampen voting by college students, who are expected to heavily favor Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

“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,” said Pat Waak, chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party.

Balink issued a statement saying his office had misinterpreted state law and “mistakenly published information that was incorrect.”

This is just another tactic by Republicans to discourage college voters, many of whom have put great effort into the Obama campaign. The manager issued a statement on the matter:

Liz Olson, the elections manager in Colorado’s El Paso County, said that the office “takes full responsibility for what’s in that document. Nobody told us to put anything in there.”

Martha Tierney, an attorney for the Colorado Democratic Party, said she obtained emails showing that Balink’s office sent a misleading flier to the Colorado College president’s office to provide students with voter-registration information and urged its circulation on campus.

The flier stated: “What this means is that if your parents still claim you on their income tax returns, and they file that return in a state other than Colorado, you are not eligible to register to vote or vote in Colorado.”

They are pulling similar tactics in other states, part of which the NYT reported on back in September.

Greenbaum noted that Virginia’s elections board recently revised language on its Internet site that discouraged students from registering after reports of a similar episode at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Va. The New York Times reported Sept. 8 that a local registrar had issued two releases that incorrectly suggested dire consequences for the university’s students who registered to vote there, including the possibility they no longer could be claimed as dependents on their parents’ tax returns.

The flap over students’ voting rights comes after Democrats last week filed a lawsuit in Michigan, seeking a court order barring Republicans from using lists of people facing mortgage foreclosure proceedings as a basis for challenging their voting eligibility. Michigan Republicans denied using foreclosure lists to cast doubt about voters’ qualifications.

The Brennan Center for Justice has Student Voting Rights section. Here is a portion of it.

The Twenty-Sixth Amendment gives 18 to 21 year olds a voice in our democracy. Students who leave home to attend college should have the right to choose where they vote. In most states it is possible for students to make this choice, but the laws governing voting eligibility can be tricky, confusing, or downright restrictive. Students can be unfairly targeted by election officials or partisan challengers and often have trouble establishing residency where they live and attend school.

This guide explains the basic residency, registration, identification, and absentee voting requirements for student voters in each of the 50 states and the D.C.

I don’t know what the law states pertaining to this issue, but I would hope there is at least a fine that can be imposed on Balink for doing this. At this point, it’s getting out of hand.

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