House OKs 21st Century Elections Bill

(April 18) – The House gave preliminary approval tonight to an election modernization bill that will provide more options to Colorado voters, creating a system that’s simpler, more convenient, less expensive and more secure.

HB13-1303, the Colorado Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act, is sponsored by Majority Leader Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D-Boulder) and Assistant Majority Leader Dan Pabon (D-Denver). The bill will simplify and standardize the voting process across Colorado; save counties at least $9.5 million per year in election expenses; increase voting options and access; and prevent fraud, ensuring the integrity of the democratic process.

Under the bill:

·        Mail ballots will be delivered to all active voters, and the “inactive – failed to vote” and “permanent vote by mail” categories will be eliminated. Gone will be the widespread confusion over whether a voter, even one who has signed up for all-mail voting, should expect to receive a ballot in the mail.

·        Voters may return their ballots by mail or in person at a Voter Service and Polling Center or other designated drop-off location, during early voting or on Election Day. Registered voters who show up at a voter service center without their mailed ballot will be issued a new ballot that can be voted on the spot.

·        Secure online voter registration databases will permit prompt updating of registration information and instant red-flagging of attempts to vote more than once.

·        Voter registration will be available to all eligible adults who have been residents of the state for 22 days before Election Day. Online voter registration will be open until eight days before Election Day, and after that — including on Election Day – voters may register at clerks’ offices and voter service centers.

“Our lives have changed and elections need to keep pace,” Rep. Hullinghorst said. “A 30-day cutoff for elections was required when voters had to register on paper. In the internet age we have the technology to ease those deadlines. Allowing voters to register through Election Day doesn’t change any of the legal requirements already in place.”

Rep. Pabon said that in December, when the bipartisan Colorado County Clerks Association initiated the discussions that produced the bill, “it was music to my ears.”

“This is a bipartisan process that 75 percent of the clerks have supported,” he told the House. “It is a showing of strength for this bill and this system. No matter what side of the aisle you’re on, no matter who your candidate of preference is, the fundamental right to vote should not depend on who the secretary of state is or who’s in charge in the General Assembly. It should only matter about those citizens who are eligible and able to vote, allowing them to exercise that right to vote.”

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