Colorado’s Democratic-controlled state legislature is ramming through an election bill that critics say will open the door to voter fraud and intimidation. The “Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act” is expected to pass the legislature this week. Democrats control both chambers of the legislature, as well as the governor’s mansion, meaning the bill could pass without a single Republican vote. The bill is under consideration amid accusations that Republicans in other states have tried to suppress the vote by passing laws that require some form of identification in order to vote.
The Colorado law would make mail-in ballots mandatory while eliminating local polling places and allowing people to vote on the same day they register.
Critics of the bill say that these changes could lead to fraud and voter intimidation.
“I want our elections to be easy to vote and tough to cheat, and this ruins that balance,” said Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican who has been an outspoken opponent of the bill.
Gessler said the two main provisions of the bill are “a recipe for fraud” and have both been proven problematic. Wisconsin and Minnesota both have same day registration, and they have both seen large problems with fraud, Gessler said.
Gessler noted a 2004 Milwaukee police report that singled out the same-day registration system as allowing felons to vote illegally and others to vote twice. The 2004 election was rife with problems and inconsistencies that caused there to be more votes than voters in Milwaukee, according to the report.
The bill also strips voters of “the protection of a private voting booth,” Gessler said, which opens up voters to the possibility of intimidation.
Some Colorado voters have already been subject to voter intimidation using mail-in ballots, said Marilyn Marks, who heads the voter watchdog group Citizen Center and has lobbied against the pending bill.
Citizen Center launched a lawsuit alleging a March recall election in Center, Colo., which partially used mail-in ballots, was rife with corruption and voter intimidation. The suit said individuals pressured voters in low income and Hispanic areas to vote for certain individuals by giving them pre-filled ballots dropping off their ballots at the polling place.