A big change to Colorado’s election system got another lopsided victory before a state Senate committee Wednesday night. The so-called Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act would provide mail ballots to every Colorado voter and allow registration all the way to Election Day. The State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee passed the bill on a 3-2 vote, three Democrats for, two Republicans against, after the bill passed the House without a single GOP vote last week. After a stop before the Senate Appropriations Committee, it goes to the full Senate. If it passes there — before 20 Democrats and 15 Republicans — by the end of the legislative session on May 8, it goes to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper for a signature to become law.
Passions ran high in the six-hour hearing. Sen. Ted Harvey was so riled up he called the bill an “atrocity,” refused offer amendments to make it better and said citizens should sue the state if it becomes law.
Backers, led by the Colorado County Clerks Association, said the bill would make sure everyone gets a ballot, and make it not just more convenient for voters but cheaper for taxpayers, too. People who want to vote in-person at a polling center still could under the proposed election change. And, most voters prefer the mail ballot, since 74 percent in Colorado chose to vote that way in the last election, they said.
Secretary of State Scott Gessler continued his spirited oratory against the bill. He said the bill isn’t needed, would cost counties too much and provides lots of opportunities for fraud.