Colorado’s county clerks have gotten off to an early start lobbying the legislature for election reforms after the previous session in which several proposals were killed during a divisive election year. The County Clerks Association met with lawmakers on Monday for an informational session to outline several proposals ranging from an all-mail ballot delivery system to shortening voter registration deadlines and eliminating contention surrounding mailing ballots to inactive voters. “Our goal today is to start a conversation on providing convenient, transparent and legal elections,” Donetta Davidson, former secretary of state and current executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, told the small group of lawmakers. Several of the legislators represented members of the House and Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs committees, which will likely be the first committees to see the bills. “Obviously accessibility and integrity is one of the issues; balancing those and making sure we meet those,” continued Davidson.
… Clerks are also ready to expand mail balloting, pointing out that 74 percent of voters in Colorado chose to cast a mail ballot in the past general election. Clerks, including Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Pam Anderson, believe the statistic represents a “clear mandate” from the electorate. Anderson said the current system — with local mail ballot elections followed by statewide polling place elections — creates confusion for voters. “What does our vision of elections look like in the State of Colorado, that reduces confusion and maintains our high level of access and integrity?” asked Anderson.
Clerks are also looking to the future, seeking to explore a statewide uniform voting and tabulation system that utilizes the most modern equipment. One proposal is to offer a phased approach to reduce costs. “Uniform tabulation equipment could standardize the risk limiting audit procedures that are in development for 2014 implementation, and provide systems that have the technical capability to efficiently audit with this method,” said Davidson. “If every county used the same system, best practices could be perfected and canvassing could also be standardized.”
Concerns have grown over ballot secrecy after several Colorado voters determined methods to trace ballots back to individual voters. Clerks believe a modernized standard system could alleviate those fears.
Updating the state’s election night reporting system could also help streamline elections, said Davidson. “Clerks, all 64 independently-elected officials, are responsible for reporting to their electorate,” she declared to lawmakers. “But the public expects us to coordinate in such a way that anyone can view statewide results on election night. We hope to work with you and the Secretary of State to refine a system that will provide accurate, cumulative results from across the state on election night.”