Furious about Democratic-proposed election changes, Colorado Senate Republicans pushed debate past midnight Wednesday arguing against same-day registration and sending ballots by mail to all registered voters before the bill received initial approval. Republicans set a partisan tone as debate got underway Tuesday evening, blasting Democrats for considering such a massive proposal with a week left in the legislative session. A GOP lawmaker asked that the entire 128-page bill be read to drive the point, and argued many lawmakers and stakeholders had not had enough time to digest the legislation. “We are rushing this through and cramming this through the Legislature in the last eight days of the legislative process. I believe that this is an abuse of process,” said Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch.
The bill has already cleared the House with unanimous opposition from Republicans, and no GOP Senators rose in support of the bill before it got approval on a preliminary vote early Wednesday. Another vote is needed to pass the Senate.
The debate came at a time of high tension in the waning days of what’s been a session of long nights packed with substantial legislation most Republicans oppose. Democrats consolidated power in November when they took over the House and retained the Senate.
With their newfound power, they’ve already passed new firearm restrictions, including limits on ammunition magazines and universal background checks—legislation passed without a single Republican vote after several hours of debate. Democrats have also passed civil unions, and are in the process of pushing for a handful of union-backed bills.
The elections bill is the latest contentious proposal. Democrats have presented the bill as a modernization of how elections are conducted, with the goal of increasing voter access.