House Republicans on Wednesday killed a bill on voter registration from one of their own members, Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose. The bill was a reaction to Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s effort to prevent county clerks from mailing ballots to people unless they voted in the last major election. After the vote, Democratic leaders were so angry they called for Gessler’s removal as the state’s top elections official. The House Local Government Committee killed Coram’s bill on a party-line, 6-5 vote. It had passed the Senate 24-10.
Colorado labels voters as “inactive” if they skipped voting in a November election in an even-numbered year. Gessler has told county clerks not to send mail ballots to voters on the inactive list. Instead, the clerks send a series of postcards, to which voters can reply and reactivate their voting status. Coram’s Senate Bill 109 would have moved all inactive voters to the active list, and it would have told elections officials to use the U.S. Postal Service’s change-of-address database to update their voter rolls.
Several rural county clerks, including La Plata County’s Tiffany Parker, pushed for the bill, saying it would make the work of updating voter rolls easier, cheaper and more accurate. “I strongly believe it is in the best interest of Colorado voters and will save money,” Parker said in written testimony to the House panel. The bill would save La Plata County $7,000 a year, Parker said. But Gessler testified against it.