House Majority Leader Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, the sponsor of a bill that would move Colorado to a predominantly mail-ballot system, said Thursday that the measure amounts to “a 21st Century approach to voting.” Gunbarrel Democrat Hullinghorst’s House Bill 1303, which was introduced Wednesday, would require Colorado’s county clerks to send mail ballots to all eligible registered voters, including those who under current law are on “inactive” lists because they didn’t participate in a recent general election. People could mail their completed ballots back or drop them off at designated locations. Voters who prefer showing up in person to cast their ballots still could do so, at early-voting centers before Election Day, or at centralized voting locations on Election Day. County clerks would no longer have to provide neighborhood precinct polling places. Hullinghorst said her bill — entitled the “Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act” — would provide “full voting options for all of the voters in the state of Colorado” while simplifying and standardizing voter-registration and ballot-casting systems for would-be voters and for county clerks.
The most controversial changes being proposed in the bill have been provisions that would allow Coloradans who are qualified to vote — but who aren’t on voter-registration rolls — to register on the same day they seek to cast their ballots. Under current law, people must be registered at least 29 days before an election in order to cast a ballot in that election.
“This is nothing more than a partisan power grab by Democrats, taken at the expense of integrity in our elections,” said Colorado Republican Committee chairman Ryan Call.
“The last thing Coloradans want is the legitimacy of our elections cast into doubt because of the serious potential for voter fraud,” Call said in an April 1 news release. “Our current system helps prevent ineligible or multiple ballots from being cast, but same-day voter registration opens the door to fraud in a way that all citizens should find deeply troubling.” Hullinghorst, however, said the bill would provide more security against fraudulent voter-registration or voting.