Denver Colorado Election Commission Computer Technician Charged With Theft, Forgery, And Embezzlement


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Note that in the November 7, 2006, election the Denver Election Commission collapsed into total chaos. What follows documents gross incompetence and mismanagement by the Denver Election Commission.

Why public trust is an issue here

City employee Tom Cole charged with theft

Denver election chief's exit sought

Denver auditor expands review of election board

Early worries forecast Election Day 2006 fiasco as Tom Coles replacement is no improvement

November 7, 2006, election collapses into chaos in Denver

Concerns about Anthony Rainey


Why public trust is an issue here by Charles E. Corry, Ph.D.

For additional information on similar problems with optical scanners see report by elections expert, Dr. Douglas Jones

After the November, 2003, mail in election, a candidate for an at-large position for the Denver City and County school board noticed that her race had received a surprisingly large undervote, especially as compared to other races in the election.

In a meeting with the Denver Election Commission on December 12, 2003, I quickly noticed that the paper stock used for the ballots was translucent and candidates and issues were printed on both sides of the ballot.

The ballots were read by a Sequoia optical scanner and such machines read ballots with a mark between greater than and less than symbols, i.e., > <. A vote for an candidate or issue is made by the voter drawing a line between these symbols, i.e., >—<. Holding the translucent ballot to the light it was quite evident that a heavy horizontal line had been printed on the opposite side of the ballot that aligned with the school board candidates ballot position on the front of the ballot. Against the light (read by optical scanner) the ballot looked like —————>—<————— from the front. The suspicion is that sometimes when the elector voted for another candidate in this race the optical scanner read the ballot in this race as an overvote, and no vote was counted for any candidate.

When questioned, Mr. Cole (see below), the City and County of Denver's technical expert, claimed the logic and accuracy tests he ran would have caught any problems with the ballot but did not elaborate on how. And we were not allowed to test or even inspect the Sequoia optical scanners.

Note that these events occurred behind the curtain of an all mail in election.


City employee Tom Cole charged with theft, forgery, and embezzlement


Based in part on a story in the Denver Pos t

Thursday, January 08, 2004, Metro briefs — An employee with the Denver Election Commission was charged Wednesday with felony theft, forgery, and embezzlement.

Thomas P. Cole, 30, was accused of stealing more than $44,000 by forging payment vouchers and buying computers and other electronic equipment, which he took home for personal use, said Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman with the Denver district attorney's office.

Cole came under suspicion during the course of a routine internal audit of purchases, according to the commission, and he was initially placed on "investigatory" leave.

The crimes took place during 2003, Kimbrough said.

Tom Cole was later convicted. Following his conviction it is reported he couldn't find a job and that he then committed suicide. He left behind a wife and very young son.

But the above is only a symptom of a much larger problem with the Denver Election Commission as set out in the following articles.


Denver election chief's exit sought


© 2005 by Karen E. Crummy,

June 14, 2005 —The Denver Election Commission is attempting to negotiate a deal for the resignation of its embattled director, Karen Hatchett, sources said Monday.

The three-member commission and election manager Karen Hatchett — all of whom have been criticized as mismanaging elections — are trying to find an agreeable way for her to leave her $69,000-a-year position.

Hatchett, who can only be fired for just cause, refused to comment. she said.

Commissioners Sandy Adams, Susan Rogers, and Wayne Vaden also declined to comment.

"A lawyer always tells his clients to say no comment," Adams said. "But (Hatchett) does know I'm extremely unhappy about her performance."

News of the negotiations comes as two election staffers were fired by Hatchett and the commission Saturday after being put on administrative leave last week. One employee, Fred Sandoval, has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and the commission, alleging he was retaliated against for saying the city tried to suppress voter turnout to help pass a $378 million jail and justice center in May.

It also coincides with a move by City Councilwoman Rosemary Rodriguez and Colorado Common Cause to possibly eliminate the three-member commission through a city charter change.

Hatchett and the commission have come under fire for a series of perceived missteps and blunders. In the November 2004 general election, nearly 40 percent of reported voting problems in Colorado occurred in Denver, a Denver Post analysis found. Additionally, the commission was late in mailing some 13,000 absentee ballots in that presidential election.

In the May municipal election, voting centers were used for the first time, with mixed success. Some, such as Common Cause, have complained the switch in voting methods confused the public.

Hatchett, however, noted that a number of counties encountered voting problems in recent elections, including November 2004.

"We have been a lightning rod for more attention than other counties because we are Denver," she said. "But I'm tired of sitting back in silence and suffering these hits." [Karen Hatchett later resigned in disgrace.]


Staff writer Karen Crummy can be reached at 303-820-1594 or


Denver auditor expands review of election board


© 2005 by Karen E. Crummy, Denver Post

Meanwhile, the embattled panel votes to use polling places, instead of only mail ballots, in November. Abolishing the commission may go before voters.

Friday, June 24, 2005 — Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher is speeding up and expanding his review of the embattled Election Commission after an initial investigation of complaints.

The review will focus on the performance of the commission, including how the three- member board determines whether to use mail ballots, polling places or other methods.

"Concerns raised have been about financial situations as well as performance concerns," said auditor spokesman Dennis Berckefeldt, noting the audit is now at the top of the list.

"The auditor, through some initial investigation into those concerns, believes the information warrants expediting the implementation of an audit."

Gallagher's move came Thursday as the commission voted 2-1 to use polling places instead of just mail ballots in November.

The commission didn't think the city election department could scan all the signatures of registered voters into the computer system by November. Those signatures are used to verify the signatures on mail ballots.

"Mail ballots are too risky, and we should go back to basics," said Clerk and Recorder Wayne Vaden.

In February, the commission reversed its decision to hold an all-mail ballot for the May election in which voters approved funding for a new justice center — even though a mail election was expected to save taxpayers as much as $400,000.

Instead, the members decided to use a combination of absentee ballots, early voting at vote centers and election-day polling places. Since then, the commission has said it would use vote centers in November [which proved to be disasters] .

Prior to Thursday's meeting, the commission met behind closed doors with former election staffer Alan McBeth, who was terminated a few weeks ago. McBeth, who was asking for his job back, was fired for alleged misconduct and negligence. He says it was the "criticism of the management style of the executive director," Karen Hatchett, that resulted in his termination.

The commission did not decide whether to reinstate him.

The commission has been criticized for a series of mishaps and public blunders, most notably in last year's presidential election. The commission is also under fire from the City Council, which is considering a proposal to eliminate the commission entirely.

The council has until August 11, 2005, to approve the proposal and file it with the election department before it can go on November's ballot.


Staff writer Karen Crummy can be reached at 303-820-1594 or


Early worries forecast Election Day 2006 fiasco as Tom Cole's replacement is no improvement

© 2006 by Alan Gathright And Lou Kilzer, Rocky Mountain News

November 7, 2006, election collapses into chaos in Denver


Mayor was told of concerns about tech chief last year

November 11, 2006 — City officials raised concerns about the Denver Election Commission's technology chief more than a year and a half before Tuesday's disastrous election, which has been blamed on technological breakdowns.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper was told in March 2005 that the man now at the center of Tuesday's voting fiasco was driving other qualified workers from the election agency.

City Council aide Lynn Pressnall said she hand-delivered a letter detailing some of the problems with Anthony Rainey to the mayor because she believed that Rainey was unqualified to head the commission's two-man information technology team and that he was part of management problems that were driving long- term, experienced workers to look for new jobs.

Rainey, who was still working on tallying ballots Friday, declined comment.

The mayor' s spokeswoman said Hickenlooper' s administration was aware of concerns about Rainey.

"While we haven't been able to locate a copy of this letter in our files, the serious allegations it contains were widely known, and we can only assume were part of the discussions and negotiations related to the departure of the Election Commission's previous executive director [Karen Hatchett]," spokeswoman Lindy Eichenbaum Lent said Friday. "By City Charter, we have no authority over the hiring, management or firing of Denver Election Commission employees."

Commission officials acknowledged Friday that Rainey repeatedly rejected help from city tech experts trying to fix equipment problems, even shouting at them to get out of the office when a voter-registration system failed during early voting the week before the election.

The electronic polling book system crashed Tuesday, plunging the election into chaos and forcing thousands of frustrated voters to stand in line for hours as poll workers attempted to verify their registration and check whether they had already voted. Some left without voting.

Denver Clerk and Recorder Wayne Vaden, the mayor' s appointee to the commission, said he rushed to the election headquarters five days before the election after hearing the "E-poll book" crashed and left several voters, including former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, waiting in line at an early-voting center.

Vaden said he took two experts from the mayor' s technology services agency, Sara Harmer and Ethan Wain, with him to help. But soon after they arrived, Vaden heard Rainey yelling at the tech experts, demanding they leave.

In hindsight, Election Commission Executive Director John Gaydeski acknowledged Friday that Rainey was unwilling to work with tech services.

Gaydeski was hired in May, three months before the primary election.

A top aide to the mayor, Katherine Archuleta, complained this week that commission officials, including Rainey, often resisted help, accusing the city of encroaching on the semi-independent commission's autonomy.

"I was hearing Sara (Harmer)...walking out saying he doesn't want to talk to me," Vaden recounted. The city clerk said he ordered Rainey: "Yes, the hell you will (work with her), because this is going to be my a — if everything falls apart."

Vaden said after 15 minutes of "back and forth," he felt he'd gotten assurances that Rainey and the tech specialists would work to solve the problem.

But, in the wake of the election fiasco, Vaden said he' s concerned a chance to fix the problem slipped through his fingers because of Rainey's refusal to accept help.

The Election Night meltdown was no surprise to Pressnall [or to the EJF] who had long forecast problems. She said she grew suspicious of Rainey's qualifications and temperament.

Finally, she wrote to the mayor and later Chief of Staff Cole Finegan, criticizing Rainey and the director of the agency:

"The executive director, Karon Hatchett, recruited a personal friend from her church, Anthony Rainey, for employment in the agency...He manages in much the same way as she does...This has only compounded and exacerbated the problems. Additional long-term experienced employees are actively seeking other employment."

Rainey was hired in March 2004 [after his predecessor, Tom Cole, was charged with felony theft, forgery, and embezzlement shortly after the November 2003 election, see above]. Hatchett said Friday that Rainey was picked by an independent board that included a representative from Denver' s technical services department and representatives of the commission's staff. Hatchett said Rainey rose to the top of a large pool of applicants.

"I was satisfied he was the best applicant or, obviously, we wouldn't have made an offer to him," Hatchett said. [Karen Hatchett resigned in January 2006 after recurring voting fiascoes.]

Concerns about Anthony Rainey


March 1, 2005: Mayor John Hickenlooper handed a letter that warned that Anthony Rainey, chief of technology for the Denver Election Commission, had "personally threatened employees" and was driving employees to find jobs elsewhere.

August 1, 2005: Same letter that was given to Hickenlooper is re-sent to his chief of staff, Cole Finegan.

June 1, 2006: Allegations about Rainey's qualifications surface on the Internet. John Gaydeski, the election commission's executive director, defends Rainey in a letter to Councilwoman Judy Montero. He said, "Anthony Rainey's background is IT and he is an expert in that field."

November 2, 2006: Rainey has outburst while getting advice from a top city technology expert five days before the election.

November 10, 2006: Rainey placed on administrative leave.



| EJF Home | Where To Find Help | Join the EJF | Comments? | Get EJF newsletter |


| Vote Fraud and Election Issues Book | Table of Contents | Site Map | Index |


| Chapter 4 — Trust Our Election Officials? |

| Next — Diebold Wines And Dines Election Officials by David Corn |

| Back — Mesa County Colorado List of Voters Raises Doubts by Nancy Lofholm |


Last modified 6/14/09