Measures on how Colorado conducts its elections are among 207 new laws taking effect Friday.
Contributions now will be limited for candidates seeking county offices, whether commissioner, sheriff, treasurer, surveyor or coroner.
House Bill 1007 was sponsored by Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Denver, and Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada, and signed April 12. Before now, a donor could give any amount they wanted to a candidate for county office.
Friday, the contributions will be capped at $1,250 from an individual donor, $12,500 from a small donor committee and $22,125 from a political party.
The largest donations to county candidates over the past three years have been from the candidates to their campaigns, data show, and that won’t change under the new law, the Secretary of State’s Office reports.
The donor who gave the most to county campaigns in the last election cycle was real estate agent and developer Greg Stevinson of Littleton, who has donated $600,000 to political campaigns and committees of all kinds since 2002, to Republicans and Democrats, state campaign finance records show.
Stevinson gave $117,210 to county and state candidates and political action committees last year, including eight donations of $2,000 to $7,500 each to six Republicans running for Jefferson County offices — the most they got from anyone.
Stevinson was the only donor to Robert Hennessy’s campaign for surveyor, giving $7,500.
Five of the six lost their bids in the 2018 Democratic sweep of contested offices in Jefferson County. Sheriff Jeff Shrader ran unopposed.
Another major election bill taking effect Friday significantly changes the state election code.
House Bill 1278 has an immediate effect on recall petitions. If enough petition signatures weren’t validated by the Secretary of State’s Office, the petition backers could add signatures until the deadline. Not anymore.
The only “cures” allowed for a recall petition now are to correct signatures deemed invalid or to correct petition circulator information. That change applies to recall petitions now being circulated against Gov. Jared Polis and Democratic state Sens. Pete Lee of Colorado Springs and Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood. The bill was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg of Boulder and Democratic Rep. Susan Lontine of Denve and signed into law May 29.
HB 1278 also:
• Changes how many signatures are needed to petition minor party candidates onto the statewide ballot. A minor party candidate who wants to run for president in 2020 now needs 1,500 signatures from each congressional district. The previous threshold was 5,000 from the entire state.
• Allows a person to vote at a polling place — in a county where he doesn’t live — on federal and statewide offices and statewide ballot questions.
• Lets recall petitions be circulated by people who aren’t Colorado residents. They must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old. The law also cuts the number of days to cure inaccuracies in recall petitions from 15 to five days.
• Increases the number of voting service centers and requires ballot drop boxes on college campuses and Indian reservations.
• Allows 17-year-olds who are pre-registered to vote, and who will be 18 by the next general election, to participate in primary elections and caucuses that take place before the general election.