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Craig Romney on potential voter fraud in the election: "It's news to me"

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At a rally featuring Craig Romney in Denver on Monday, a deputy coalitions director with the campaign who introduced Mitt's youngest son encouraged supporters to be poll watchers and help ensure that no one cheats on election day. But when asked about it after the speech, Romney told us he's not concerned about voter fraud or cheating, saying, "It's news to me."

Paulo Sibaja, a deputy coalitions director with the Colorado Romney team, made a short speech to a crowd of supporters gathered outside the Denver campaign office on Cook Street before Craig Romney spoke.

Sibaja said: "We have eight more days. So what can we do immediately? There's three things that we can do: Knock on doors and make phone calls -- and last, be a poll watcher. Why a poll watcher? We want to make sure we have an honest election and no one's cheating."

In the months leading up to the race, efforts to prevent fraud and cheating in the election have created a lot of controversy in Colorado, mainly with the initiatives of Secretary of State Scott Gessler to weed out immigrant voters who are illegally registered to vote. Gessler recently announced that there are 300 voters who are immigrants according to federal records but still have successfully registered to vote. They would be committing fraud on election day if they do end up voting, Gessler says. This group of 300 is in addition to 141 voters he flagged in September.

Critics say the data Gessler is using can be inaccurate and that this kind of effort could intimidate voters, especially new citizens who are likely to be targeted. Gessler, a Republican who has appeared at events with the controversial anti-fraud group True the Vote, says it's just good government to try and close serious loopholes. Given that the timing is so close to the election, the Secretary of State's office hasn't been able to do much more than send these 441 voters letters and forward their names to county clerks. In a first round of checks, a total of fourteen were removed across the state. From the second round, we know that in Denver, the state's largest county, five were removed last week -- none of whom had actually voted. The clerk's office chalked up the presence of the names to clerical errors.

In the final days of the race, some liberal groups in Colorado say they are bracing for potential intimidation or suppression from right-wing groups and poll watchers aligned with Romney. And one of the main arguments of those opposed to Gessler's anti-fraud efforts is that there really isn't much fraud or reason to be concerned about potential "cheaters." Gessler disagrees and says there is proof that illegally registered voters have actually cast ballots in Colorado elections.

Craig Romney, however, is not too concerned -- or at least he doesn't much want to talk about it.

Continue to read more about Craig Romney's reaction to questions about potential voter fraud. After Romney shook hands and posed for photos with supporters outside a big campaign tour bus, we asked him about Sibaja's comments that individuals should volunteer to help prevent cheating.

How important is poll watching in the final days of the race?

"You know, I think I try to focus on people just getting out, getting their voice heard. I'm sure we should be fine as far as that goes," he said.

We followed up and asked him if he worries about fraud or issues of cheating, which has obviously been a concern raised by some in Colorado.

"You know, it's news to me. But, you know, I just try to stay focused on my dad's message of getting the economy turned around, getting people out to the polls, and I'm confident that we'll do well here in Colorado," he said.

Wendy Warner, chair of the Denver Republican Party, who also attended the rally, told us afterward that poll watching is an important part of the race. She sees it as a tool to help preserve the integrity of the process.

"I think both parties are moving toward more fair elections," she said, adding that she wants to make sure everyone who is legally allowed to vote is able to do so and that there is no fraud on election day. "You want to have faith in the election -- that it is truly the outcome of what the people really wanted."

More from our Politics archive: "Bill Clinton on Romney strategy: "I look like a president, I act like a president.... Elect me!""

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at Sam.Levin@Westword.com.

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