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Claim of Colorado voter purge is misleading

Greg Palast, an independent journalist who has written for Rolling Stone and other publications, wrote on his website Friday that Colorado is one of several states purging voters from its rolls.

KUSA — At one point, the world only knew "The Purge" as a series of horror movies. Those were simpler times.

Enter, Colorado politics in 2018 – nearly as scary as a horror movie, but the storylines are far more complex.

Greg Palast, an independent journalist who has written for Rolling Stone and other publications, wrote on his website Friday that Colorado is one of several states purging voters from its rolls. Per his report, more than 769,000 registrations were wiped from state records. He made similar claims against other states, like Georgia and Illinois, as well.

Voter registrations in Colorado may be canceled for several reasons including an out-of-state move, a felony conviction or death. Your voter registration could also be canceled if you chose not to vote in recent elections and didn’t respond to inquiries from your county clerk after.

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In 2017, about 3,700 people voluntarily withdrew their registrations after learning Colorado’s Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who is up for re-election this year, would give publicly available voter information to the Trump administration’s voter fraud commission.

RELATED | 3,700 Colorado voters withdrew registration since state's decision to comply with voter commission

A spokesperson for Williams told 9NEWS that 700,000 Coloradans were removed from voter rolls in the last decade for reasons like those listed above.

Other votes are considered inactive but have not have their registrations canceled.

“What that means is that we have sent them a ballot or mail in the past and that mail has bounced. So, in all likelihood, those voters no longer live here in Colorado. But if they do, they still haven’t been purged, they’re just inactive, and they can reactivate by going to the polls and voting or getting online and changing their voter registration,” Staiert said.

In a phone interview with 9NEWS, Palast couldn’t give offer any evidence of improperly purged voter registrations. He said Williams is withholding that information from him. He said Williams is refusing to provide formerly registered voters’ addresses for cross-referencing.

“When you ask me whether they are illegally purged voters, when you got a politician running for office who can purge voters they don't like, they generally do. It's motive and opportunity. And I've never been wrong on this,” he said.

Williams’ Democratic challenger Jena Griswold issued a statement Monday saying she does not find the claims to be factual.

"The reports on voter purges in Colorado are not true. We need more facts, and less scare tactics in our politics,” she said.

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Staiert described Palast’s report the same way, and said she fears such reports could discourage people from voting.

“That kind of misinformation that’s put out by people is kind of a scare tactic. The danger is that people get frustrated with it. They believe it and they believe, ‘Oh, I’m not on the voting rolls. I’m not eligible to vote. I’m not going to go through the steps to do it.” And the fact of the matter is they probably are on the rolls, they are eligible to vote,” Staiert said.

Palast says he is preparing to sue Williams for the information he has requested.

Palast urges his readers to use his database to check voter registration status and tells them they must register by Oct. 29 to vote. The secretary of state provides such a database on its own website, too. Voters can also register up through Election Day in Colorado.

You must register to vote by Oct. 29 to get a ballot in the mail, but ballots can be cast in person through 7 p.m. on the day of the election.

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