Election 2018Hot Sheet

‘Be Registered Colorado’ mailers unreliable, officials warn

Author: Rachel Riley, The Gazette - October 10, 2018 - Updated: October 10, 2018

A “Be Registered Colorado” mailer. (Image courtesy of the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office)

Beware a mysterious election mailing making the rounds in the Pikes Peak region, warn state and El Paso County officials.

The mailers, titled “Be Registered Colorado,” have been sent to already-registered voters across the state, urging them to register before the Nov. 6 election, thus causing confusion and frustration.

“It doesn’t take much imagination to see how a citizen could think the mailing is related to the upcoming election or is otherwise an official mailing from the county,” said county Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman in a statement Monday. “In an effort to clear up any confusion, I’d like to be clear: These mailings did not originate from El Paso County or the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.”

The mailers have been sent to dead voters and to women using their maiden names, even those who changed surnames years ago, said Lynn Bartels, a spokeswoman for the Secretary of State’s Office.

The mailer directs voters to a link on the Secretary of State’s website. It also contains an envelope, addressed to that office, and advises voters to submit updated information by mail.

“People think its official,” Bartels said. “It just erodes confidence in the process.”

The group has claimed it’s using a company to collect data on eligible unregistered voters, the Secretary of State’s Office reports.

The “Be Registered” mailers have been the subject of complaints in Iowa and Connecticut, Bartels said.

But the mailers’ origins are still fuzzy. A copy distributed with a news release from the Clerk and Recorder’s Office shows a return address of an Atlanta post office box.

“We don’t know who they are or what their purpose is or who they’re working for,” Bartels said.

In an Oct. 3 letter to a Lexington, Ky.-based attorney affiliated with the organization, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert asked that the group “take steps to avoid confusing already-registered voters” in Colorado.”

“Confusing voters is a problem any time of the year. When it happens just before a major federal election, it’s unacceptable,” Staiert wrote in the letter to Eric Lycan, a partner at Dinsmore & Shohl.

The firm’s website says Lycan is general counsel to the Republican Party of Kentucky and the state’s House Republican Leadership. He’s provided “strategic counsel” to candidates and campaigns and was counsel for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s 2014 re-election, the website says. Lycan did not respond to phone calls and an email seeking comment.

Broerman said unsanctioned efforts like these are nothing new, and he reminded voters to stay alert.

“Each election cycle, outside groups try to motivate voters through a variety of methods. Some of these groups may try to contact voters using means that look or sound official,” he said in a statement. “While some of these strategies are technically legal, please contact our office if you have questions or concerns regarding your voter registration.”

People can verify their voter registration on govote colorado.com. Local voters with questions or concerns should call 575-8683.

Rachel Riley, The Gazette

Rachel Riley, The Gazette