Colorado elections have come a long way since the days voters marked a paper ballot and dropped it in a ballot box.
Chances are that if you voted in 2012, you voted by mail, like more than 70 percent of other Colorado voters and 62 percent of La Plata County voters. Voting by mail has become a convenient, poplar and budget-friendly way for local governments to run elections.
But Colorado has a complex mosaic of election laws that mean voters don’t know if they will automatically get a mail ballot, even if they’ve signed up with their county clerk to receive one for every election.
New legislation being considered at the State Capitol would help simplify elections for voters, give them more options on how to vote and will mean cost savings for local governments.
The proposed bill, the Colorado Voter Access & Modernized Elections Act, would simplify the election process by mailing a ballot to every registered voter. Voters would have the choice of mailing back the ballot, dropping it off at a voter service and polling center or voting in-person during early voting or on Election Day.
This allows each voter options on how to cast their ballot and creates consistency for every election. County clerks have balked at this process in the past because the technology was not sufficient to ensure the integrity and security of elections.
Colorado now has 21st-century technology statewide to check who has cast a ballot in real time to avoid any duplicate voting. This ability is added to the security checks of signature verification by a bipartisan team for mail ballot. Every first-time voter must present an approved identification and sign a legally binding affidavit that they are an eligible Colorado resident. The result is that while voter fraud happens, it is extremely rare in Colorado.
The ability to register to vote will also be expanded and more convenient under the proposed new law. Eligible citizens will be able to register to vote every day through Election Day at a county clerk’s office. Voter registration through registration drives and at the motor vehicle department would end 22 days before Election Day because there is more labor intensive paperwork involved in entering those into the electronic system.
Eligible citizens will be able to register, get replacement ballots, resolve voting issues and vote in-person at voter service and polling centers beginning 15 days before and through Election Day.
Voting has changed over the decades as our lives change and technology changes. People lead hectic lives and move much more often than they did in the past. Change is not always easy, but it is exciting to meet new challenges.
I support these changes to Colorado’s voting laws because it will make it simpler and better for voters.
When more people participate in elections, it results in more representative government and that is better for all of us.
Tiffany Parker is the La Plata County clerk. Reach her at Tiffany.Parker@co.laplata.co.us.