The Legislature could be on the verge of approving sweeping changes to the way most municipalities conduct elections in the state, but not until a lawmaker intends to introduce last-minute changes before the final Senate vote on the legislation. As it’s written, the bill, HB 1130, would allow military and overseas voters in Colorado municipal elections the same opportunity to return ballots using so-called electronic transmission — via fax machines and email — as the same voters have been able to do for years in county, state and federal elections, among other changes to municipal elections law. But a flurry of protests that have reached a fever pitch this week claim that the bill’s language would open the door to all manner of online voting, including posting ballots to Twitter or texting votes to election clerks. What’s more, the bill’s critics charge, clerks in small towns aren’t equipped to verify emailed ballots, which they contend can easily be hacked, spoofed or diverted.
The bipartisan bill — sponsored by state Reps. Dan Nordberg, R-Colorado Springs, and Su Ryden, D-Aurora, and state Sens. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, and Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo — sailed through the House on a vote of 65-0 and was waved ahead, again without opposition, in a Senate committee hearing last week. When the bill came up for second reading in the Senate on Tuesday, it passed a voice vote with nearly all in agreement.
It’s that virtual unanimity through nearly every step of the legislative process that makes the rare prospect of third-reading amendments even more unusual, a predicament acknowledged by Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, who is leading the charge to conduct a massive overhaul of the bill at the 11th hour.
“Whenever you open up election law, there are myriad issues that are there. I have always tried to head election law into the most secure fashion possible so we can have the most confidence in the integrity of our election system,” Lundberg told The Statesman on Thursday. “This bill continues to develop a policy that has been put in place by the clerks and the secretary of state more than the Legislature in encouraging use of the internet for delivery and receipt of ballots.” And that’s what he intends to change, warning that the way the bill is written will open a can of worms.
Full Article: Imbroglio embroils election bill | The Colorado Statesman.