Last year, the Pew Center for the States released a report titled “Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient: Evidence That America’s Voter Registration System Needs an Upgrade.” Among other things, it revealed that “almost 2.7 million people appear to be registered in two states, and more than 70,000 people could be registered in three or more.” The Colorado legislature isn’t helping matters with House Bill 1303, which has passed both chambers and awaits the governor’s signature. The bill requires mail ballots be sent to all registered voters, whether they’ve cast ballots in recent elections or not — and halted when the ballot is returned or the state learns through other checks that someone has moved or died. One critical backstop is the National Change of Address file maintained by the Postal Service. But in an era in which snail mail is rapidly losing its relevance, particularly for young adults, that file is hardly comprehensive. And yet as Pew points out, “Census numbers from 2009 reveal one in four adults ages 25 to 34 changed residences.” So what happens in homes where, say, a 20-something takes a job in another state? The ballots could just keep on coming.
Nor is the risk of two-state registrations the most troubling component of HB 1303. Since the bill mandates hundreds of thousands of ballots be sent to people who either have no intention of voting or who are determined to vote in person at a polling center, it clearly increases the temptation and opportunities for less exotic forms of fraud, too.
County clerks, most of whom support the bill, get all huffy at the talk of fraud, as if it were an alien concept to Coloradans. And after all, the clerks insist, they’ve got these nifty, nearly foolproof ways of verifying ballot signatures.
Except maybe they’re not so foolproof. Election integrity activists wonder, for example, why rates of rejected ballots vary so much if the checks are as good as advertised.
“How can Douglas County, with signatures verified by machine, have a .2 percent rejection rate and Denver County have a 10 times greater rejection rate at 2.3 percent?” wonders Marilyn Marks of The Citizen Center. “These variations mean that thousands of voters’ ballots are either being improperly rejected or improperly counted.”
Marks considers present-day signature verification a “joke.”
Full Article: A setback for election integrity – The Denver Post.