Fountain Valley News - Your Hometown Community Newspaper

Election and Voter Bills

 

As this is being written we have five days left in the session, when the Constitution says 120 days it means 120 days. The final gavel on the first session of the 72nd General Assembly will come down no later than Friday midnight May 3. To a first-time participant, finishing up 200 plus bills in five days looks to be an impossibility – even assuming the early mornings and late nights continue.

One bill in particular that will make it is HB19-1278 "Modifications to the Uniform Election Code" – the 59-page bill otherwise known as "Telling County Clerks How to Do Their Job" passed the Senate on the first true Saturday session in over 20 years. It will come back for a third and final vote this week and the governor would then have 100 days to sign it into law. In all fairness, with over 40 amendments the bill did get better as it progressed through the system.

When the bill was introduced it appeared to be an excuse to rewrite the Election Code making a statewide fix for some localized problems in the Denver area this past election day. As introduced, there was overwhelming opposition from the county clerks from across the political spectrum. With a 100% mail ballot it was hard to justify forcing the county clerks to spend an estimated five to eight million dollars because of a few lines on election day.

Extending the voting hours at the in person voting centers was removed – with 94% of ballots being cast by mail or drop box it was hard to justify those additional hours. However, additional drop boxes are required now, targeting institutions of higher education and historically under-represented communities, but not "located at a police station, sheriff's office or town marshal's office unless they are located in a multipurpose building". In El Paso County where previously 16 drop boxes had been used 50 were required but that was amended down to 32.

The secretary of state did come up with $2.7 million dollars to spread across 64 counties to help offset the capital cost of the new requirements but nothing towards the ongoing costs which El Paso County estimates to be about $180,000. Additionally, there is a waiver process though the secretary of state if the voting locations just don't make sense for a particular county.

Another government overreach bill - SB19-235, "Automatic Voter Registration" requires voter registration and data transfer to the secretary of state Elections Office. Every user of the Department of Motor Vehicles and every person applying for public assistance will be registered by automatic data transfer unless they request an opt out. Despite some confidential data having already been made public through these data transfers it passed the Senate on a party line vote. Now it's up to the House.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings here at the Capitol. Lots of ways to stay in touch; Office phone: 303-866-4877, Mobile phone: 719-351-2121, Email: [email protected], Twitter: @SenDennisHisey, Facebook: Senator Dennis Hisey

 

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