Illegal voting charge dropped against Aurora man; prosecutor says allegation can't be proven

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CENTENNIAL, Colorado — A judge dismissed an election-fraud charge against an Aurora man on Wednesday after prosecutors said they could not prove he was the one who illegally registered himself to vote.

Tadesse G. Degefa, who is not a U.S. citizen, had been charged with procuring false registration for allegedly signing up to vote in 2012.

District Attorney George Brauchler said the secretary of state's voter registration website does not have safeguards to prevent someone from illegally registering someone else to vote. He also said government agencies do not share information that could help stop noncitizens from registering.

Rich Coolidge, a spokesman for Secretary of State Scott Gessler, said changes have been made to the website, but officials need lawmakers' help to do more. "We hope the Legislature will work with us in order to implement those safeguards," he said.

Brauchler said Degefa voted in 2008 and 2009 but could not be charged because the statute of limitations had expired.

No phone listing could be found for Degefa, 72, who is from Ethiopia. He did not have a lawyer, prosecutors said.

He was one of four people charged with procuring false registration after Gessler referred 155 suspected noncitizens to Colorado county prosecutors in July 2013.

The case against one of them, a vote canvasser, was dropped in June. Charges are still pending against one canvasser and one noncitizen.

Democratic lawmakers questioned whether partisan politics motivated Gessler, a Republican, to launch the investigation.

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