In a move likely to inflame partisan tensions, Colorado Democrats plan to graft dead legislation allowing counties to mail ballots to 439,560 “inactive voters” onto a resurrected Republican bill. House Republicans said Senate Democrats were “hijacking” the House bill. But Democrats said the issue of allowing registered voters who didn’t vote in the last election to receive mail ballots was too important to give up. “If it’s going to be a fight, this is worth fighting over,” Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, an organizer of the Democratic effort, said. House Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, said he was surprised by the Democratic move. “I know that from time to time bills are hijacked for other purposes,” McNulty said. “It’s pretty extraordinary that Senate Democrats would resurrect a (Republican) bill like this. It is extraordinary that they would go to these efforts.”
The conflict is over legislation that would foil Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s attempts to prevent county clerks from mailing ballots to people who did not vote in the 2010 general election and who failed to respond to two postcards mailed to them. In Colorado, such voters who miss an even-year general election are labeled “inactive,” and Gessler last year directed county clerks not to mail ballots to these voters. Gessler sued to keep Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson from sending out ballots to more than 54,000 inactive voters, though a judge ruled Johnson could do so.
Democratic lawmakers attempted to clarify the law on inactive voters through Senate Bill 109, which passed the Senate on a 24-10 vote, with four Republicans joining in support. But the bill died Friday on a 6-5 party- line vote in a House committee.