Colorado passes model election reform legislation

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Longtime readers of this blog know the election reforms that I have been advocating for years. I cannot get a bill, let alone get a bill heard, in our Tea-Publican dominated legislature. All they care about is restricting your right to vote and making participation in the political process more difficult for voters.

But the Democratic controled legislature of the state of Colorado just passed several of the election reforms that I have long advocated for. Can you say "model legislation"? This is the bright-line policy divide in the Secretary of State race in 2014. Colorado Legislature Passes Major Voting Rights Expansion Bill:

Both houses of the Colorado legislature passed a major overhaul
of state election law that would implement same-day registration and
voting
, automatically send mail-in ballots to every voter, and create a
real-time statewide voter database
to prevent fraud. [They stopped short of universal voter registration.] Proponents view the
bill, written by a bipartisan group of county clerks, as a national
model for other states.

The same-day registration provision prompted most of the resistance
from Republicans, who largely voted against the bill in both houses. The
bill, however, did garner Republican support from county clerks, and
former Republican Secretary of State Donetta Davidson. The Denver Post explained:

Those promoting the changes said the bill is
uniquely Colorado, and the state could take the lead nationally on
making elections more convenient to voters. They are confident other
states will follow — because voters like mail voting (74 percent in
Colorado last November), while preserving in-person voting at a few
early voting centers, and, eventually, saving millions of dollars for
counties.
[…]

Other clerks, though, said switching to mail will mean buying less
equipment to operate and maintain for a ever-shrinking number of people
who still vote in person. That could save millions of dollars in some
county over a longer period of time. Denver expects to save a total of
about $730,000 in next year’s general election alone, director of
elections Amber McReyholds said.

Before the bill goes before Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), the Senate
must approve a slight amendment to the House bill. If signed into law,
the bill is likely to give a significant boost to turnout. In Washington, Colorado and Oregon, the states that now have universal vote-by-mail, turnout rates exceed
the national average by at least five percentage points. And studies
have found that Election Day Registration laws boost turnout 7 to 14 percentage points.

Here is my suggestion: end this pissing match between Sen. Michele Reagan (R-Scottsdale), chair of the Senate Elections Committee and a filed candidate for Secretary of State in 2014, and Rep. Michelle Ugenti (R-Scottsdale), over their so-called election "reform" bills that restrict the right to vote and make participation in the political process more difficult for voters. Just pull the bills and let them die.

Then convene a genuine stakeholders meeting with all interested parties, not just a few Republican legislators and the county recorders and election directors, and use the model legislation from Colorado as a starting point for discussion. Come back in January with a package of reforms that have bipartisan support, and the support of voting rights advocacy groups. If Colorado can do it, then surely Arizona ought to try.

Comments are closed.