We have noted that the legislative session is making history with a series of bills, many of which run counter to what Colorado voters have said they want. Another such bill (HB19-1278) has been introduced that would make major changes to the “Uniform Election Code of 1992” (code), including changes to procedures for voter registration, ballot access requirements, political party organization filing requirements, procedures for emergency and in-person voting, requirements for the content of an election plan, procedures for curing ballots, and requirements for curing recall petitions.
The formulas and hours for voting times would also be changed.
A record number of county clerks converged on Colorado’s state Capitol this week to voice their concerns about and opposition to the proposed bill that would, among other things, extend voting hours on Election Day from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Bill supporters have cited long lines in some counties on election days but of course now that Colorado voters receive their ballots by mail, most of the state’s voters don’t go to the polls.
Although it’s early to project costs, the bill’s mandated changes would cost counties more, which prompts concerns about how to pay for the changes, especially in rural areas stressed for funds. Rural Mesa County strongly opposes the bill, mostly because unfunded mandates will be burdensome.
Colorado county clerks oppose this new legislation, saying that extending voting hours would increase costs and set their offices up for failure. Many clerks have difficulty finding election judges, and extra hours will not make the task easier.
Another part of the bill is a partisan move designed to attract younger voters. The bill allows a 17-year-old who is preregistered and who will be 18 on the date of the next general election to vote in a primary. Democrats have been advocating letting voters as young as 16 vote.
There also is nothing wrong with the state’s voting system, experts say, so why tamper with a structure that has been labeled as one of the nation’s most efficient?
As reported in the Washington Post last year, Colorado is a state that is paving the way as a leader in election security and efficiency. And as we have said, if it isn’t broken, why try to fix it? Change for the sake of change can often backfire with unintended consequences.
Elections are fraught with the possibilities of problems as we have learned with hanging chads and the Florida election recount of 2000. More recently, Florida’s botched recount attempts have signaled problems to come in 2020. We don’t want to see Colorado lose its excellent election rating.
The bill’s sponsors Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver, and Sen. Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, say they are willing to work with clerks to address their issues. Tabling the bill would be a better solution.