Colorado Democrats are planning sweeping changes to how elections are run in the state, to the dismay of Republican leaders who say they’ve been excluded from crafting a bill that that would allow same-day voter registration and require mailed ballots to every eligible voter. A bill of more than 100 pages is expected to be introduced this week, likely sparking a big partisan fight over whether the changes benefit one party over the other. Supporters of the changes, which also include eliminating the so-called “inactive voter” status, say the goal is to make voting more accessible. “I think people are like me, they just want people engaged in the Democratic process,” said Democratic Sen. Angela Giron, one of the bill sponsors. She insisted they didn’t exclude Republicans from the process. Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who oversees elections and has butted heads with Democrats on a range of issues, said the bill was “written in complete secrecy excluding anyone who may have a different point of view.”
Gessler said he first saw a draft of the bill Friday, and Republican Rep. Mark Waller, the House GOP leader, said Monday he had yet to see it.
“What’s the motivation behind this? Well, it seems that’s what the motivation is, to change the rules of the game in a very one-sided direction,” Gessler said.
Waller also said he’s been left in the dark on the bill, despite his inquires.
“They’ve just kind of blown me off and gone on,” he said.
Under the bill, every registered voter in Colorado would get a ballot in the mail. They could still vote in person if they choose.
Oregon and Washington mail ballots to every eligible voter, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In Colorado, 74 percent of voters cast a mail ballot in November, according to a letter to lawmakers from the state’s County Clerks Association, which includes Republicans. In the letter late last year, clerks called that figure “a clear mandate from the electorate.”
The letter also said the label of inactive voters should be addressed.
The bill eliminates the label for voters who failed to vote in the most recent election, which restricted their ability to get ballots by mail.
Clerks also wanted to allow more time for people to register to vote and clear up confusion about different deadlines, but they did not specifically call for same-day voter registration.
A draft of the bill, which is still being written, said the intent of same-day voter registration is “to remove barriers to participation and make voting and registration more convenient and accessible.”