Colorado legislators introduced a reform package yesterday to expand voting access and modernize the state’s election system. Significantly, county clerks, who are in charge of running elections, back the plan because it will save them time and money. “To me, this is really bipartisan. This makes sense. This is not Republican versus Democrat,” La Plata County Clerk Tiffany Lee Parker, a Republican, told the Durango Herald.
Leading voting rights experts from the Brennan Center, including Democracy Program Deputy Director Myrna Pérez, are available for your coverage of voting laws in Colorado and nationwide.
“With states across the country trying to restrict the vote, it’s heartening to see Colorado lead the charge to expand voting access,” said Pérez. “The 2012 election was marred by long lines and confusion at the polls. As the leading democracy in the world, we need a 21st century election system. Americans are demanding change, and this bill is a tremendous step forward. We applaud the Colorado legislature for working to keep elections free, fair, and accessible for all eligible citizens.”
The Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act would do a number of things, including:
- Increase registration opportunities: Voters would be able to register through Election Day. This would expand online registration and institute same-day registration.
- Eliminate “inactive failed to vote” status: No voter would be designated as “inactive failed to vote” for missing a general election, meaning these citizens would receive mail ballots even in mail-only elections. The Brennan Center represented Colorado Common Cause in a lawsuit challenging Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s interpretation of the “inactive failed to vote” provision.
- Establish voter access and modernized elections commission: The commission would evaluate the state’s voting and registration systems.
- Create portable registration: Eligible voters who move within state and do not update their address before Election Day would be able to update their records and cast a ballot that will count.
The Colorado bill is one of more than 150 reform bills that have been introduced nationwide since the beginning of 2013. A new Brennan Center analysis tracking voting laws found at least 80 restrictive bills were introduced in 31 states this year. A more detailed analysis of expansive voting laws is forthcoming.
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