DENVER – A former Denver City Council candidate was accused Monday of attempting to make last year’s ballot by using forged petition signatures from registered voters, including some who were dead, and even listing some “Sesame Street” characters.
Corrie Houck, 44, faces felony counts in Denver County Court of attempting to influence a public servant and forgery, plus misdemeanor counts of perjury. A warrant for her arrest was issued, with bond set at $5,000.
Houck didn’t make the May 5 ballot for the southwest District 2 race because too few signatures were confirmed on her candidacy petitions. But she later registered as a write-in candidate in the crowded field. Kevin Flynn and John Kidd advanced to the run-off, and Flynn prevailed.
Attempts to reach Houck on Monday were unsuccessful. Investigators said in the arrest warrant affidavit filed with the case that they also were unable to reach Houck to hear her account.
Candidates for council seats last year typically turned in far more signatures than the 100 required, since some signers inevitably were ineligible to vote in Denver.
But the Denver Elections Division noticed that on Houck’s six candidacy petitions, filed March 11, more than half of the signatures didn’t match signatures on file for those voters, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. And three supposed signers had died in the year before Houck collected signatures.
Election officials notified the Denver District Attorney’s Office. Investigators interviewed several voters who confirmed they didn’t sign Houck’s petition.
And then there were the “Sesame Street” characters. The affidavit notes on page 11 of 16 that one supporter of Houck’s was listed as “Bert and Ernie.” Another was “Big Bird.”
In both instances, “Sesame Street” was listed under the address field, and the signatures contained abbreviated expletives. It’s unclear if Houck or someone else wrote those entries.
The Elections Division alerted investigators to another signature they flagged as suspect. It was purportedly from the mother of a former election judge, Lawton Shinsato, who later told investigators that his mother could not have signed the petition because she has Alzheimer’s disease and is homebound.
The DA’s office filed a single count of attempting to influence a public servant, six counts of forgery and six counts of perjury for signing those petitions. The most serious charge carries a potential prison sentence of two to six years in prison upon conviction, but incarceration would be unlikely in such a case when a defendant lacks a criminal history.
Houck, who has worked as a communications specialist, also ran unsuccessfully for a state House seat earlier this decade.