The Colorado Senate passed a bill Thursday that would provide a ballot by mail to every state voter, allow vote centers for those who choose not to use the mail ballot and — controversially — allow people to register and vote on Election Day. The bill passed 20-15 with the full support of Democrats and no Republican votes. The bill passed the House on a party-line vote last month. Before it can go to Gov. John Hickenlooper for a signature to become the new way elections are held in Colorado, the bill must return to the House for approval because of “technical” amendments added in the Senate. While legislators in both parties liked the convenience of more by-mail voting, Election Day registration was the grist for the oratory mill.
Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, said the bill, called the “Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act” by supporters, should instead be called the “Same Day Voter Fraud Act.”
Though the bill’s supporters say the bill doesn’t change how people register to vote now, Republicans said cheaters could get a ballot with nothing more than a utility bill, which could be forged.
Rich Coolidge, spokesman for Secretary of State Scott Gessler, the state’s top elections official, explained the concern.
“If I don’t have a Colorado driver’s license or don’t know the last four digits of my (Social Security number), I can show up on Election Day with only a utility bill and get registered and vote a normal ballot,” he wrote in an e-mail while the debate was unfolding.
“Yes, this is the vulnerability of our current system, but at least county officials have at least 29 days to review that data and the political parties and campaigns also have that information from the voter file. An election judge registering that voter same day is the only safeguard.”