A more than 100-page sweeping election reform bill is likely to be introduced by Democrats in the Senate next week, covering everything from moving voter registration deadlines to mailing ballots to inactive voters. Even before the bill has reached its final draft, Secretary of State Scott Gessler and fellow Republicans have pounced on the proposal, concerned that the bill would create same-day voter registration. The GOP is also critical of what they consider to be a “secretive” drafting process. Gessler said he hasn’t yet seen a draft of the bill. Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, said she would carry the late bill when it is introduced by the end of next week. Assistant Majority Leader Dan Pabon, D-Denver, and Majority Leader Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, would be the House sponsors.
The measure would likely:
• Expand voter options, including mail ballots, while providing polling places for those who need it;
• Permit county clerks to mail ballots to inactive-failed-to-vote electors;
• Move voter registration deadlines, which could include same-day; and
• Create a uniform voting and tabulation system.
Lawmakers are also examining reforming canvassing and poll watcher rules, while refining the election night reporting system.
Giron said the bill aims to empower voters and grow registration rolls, as well as bring about necessary reform.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am, and how fortunate that I feel to be able to have this kind of impact, because I definitely think it’s going to have a huge impact in our state…” Giron told The Colorado Statesman. “There is no other state that has the kind of options that we’re going to be able to provide our voters, and so what’s exciting to me… is that’s about participation, and people getting engaged in what’s happening in our state. I’m just really thrilled.”
Many of the recommendations mirror those suggested by the County Clerks Association, who in November sent a letter to lawmakers recommending several legislative proposals.
For the most part the association appears supportive of the effort. The 64 clerks have not yet officially decided whether to support the legislation, noting that the bill is still being drafted. But a statement e-mailed to The Statesman from the clerks association indicates their willingness to see the reforms enacted.
“Colorado’s County Clerks — Republicans and Democrats — have long advocated reforming our laws to reflect their desire for convenient and secure elections,” reads the statement. “This includes a mail ballot delivery system with several options on how the vote may be cast, while ensuring accurate election results. “We are encouraged by the spirit of the legislation we understand is under consideration,” the statement continues. “We urge the Secretary of State and other leaders involved with elections to join us in discussing the future of Colorado elections.”