Elusive Fix For “Inactive” Voters

The Pueblo Chieftain’s Patrick Malone reports:

Democrats revived a proposal Monday that Republicans had killed last week seeking to mail ballots to inactive voters. Democrats attached an amendment to a separate bill by Sen. Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, that he said “hijacked” the legislation’s intention…

Last week a Republican-controlled House committee killed SB109, which sought to do the same thing. Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz, a Democrat, was among the supporters who testified in favor of that bill. Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican, testified against it.

A war of words between Gessler and Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio, a native Puebloan, ensued.

“I don’t know if this was part of that game,” Grantham said. “If it was, I’m sorry to hear that. If it wasn’t, the result’s the same. They still hijacked the bill.”

Rich Coolidge, a spokesman for Gessler’s office, testified that about 135,000 inactive voters statewide would be eligible for mail ballots if the amended bill passes. According to The Denver Post, 37 percent of them are Democrats, 22.5 percent are Republicans and 40 percent are unaffiliated.

The controversy over so-called “inactive-failed to vote” status voters stems from last year’s fight over delivery of mail ballots to these voters in Denver and Pueblo counties. Those counties, ultimately joined by a number of others, prevailed in court against an attempt by Secretary of State Scott Gessler to stop delivery of these ballots. After Republicans in the Colorado House killed Senate Bill 109, which would have similarly clarified the status of “inactive-failed to vote” voters and ensured they continued to receive mail ballots this year, leading to the call by Colorado Democrats for Gessler’s removal from office, the issue is once again front and center.

Republicans backing Gessler say that mailing these ballots could result in fraud, while Democrats look at the partisan makeup of affected voters and say they know exactly why Republicans don’t want these ballots going out. We would remind readers of the results of last year’s election in Pueblo County, where by a combination of greater awareness and the aforementioned win in court, a much higher percentage of “inactive-failed to vote” mail ballots were cast than the previous election. Nobody has suggested since that those votes were cast fraudulently.

Bottom line: we doubt that this latest attempt to remedy the issue of “inactive” voters and mail ballots will be successful, since House Republicans are politically dug in on the issue and are almost sure to kill the bill when it comes back to them. But this gives Democrats another chance to frame the issue around access to the vote and GOP attempts to restrict it. Based on what we saw in Pueblo last year, this could indeed be a way to motivate Democratic voters. Who may not always turn out, but just might when their right to is perceived to be under threat.

9 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. HB1267 is also a voting rules bill – and what’s more, the House sponsor of the bill, Don Coram from Montrose, was also the House sponsor of SB109, which died (contrary to Republican protests) in committee without a full hearing on the merits on the floor.

  2. PitaPita says:


    @Ralphie – hope you don’t mind the promo to Pols. You have been on top of this from the get-go.

  3. Jones Smith says:

    At some point, Gessler is going to have to break cover and admit that he wants to cancel the election, to “prevent fraud.”  

    • droll says:

      Only count the vote he can absolutely swear is legitimate. (Do you know where your long form birth certificate is?)

      At least the mandatory re-counts will go super quickly. This guy is trying to save a ton of taxpayer cash while having a fraud-free election and you say he “sucks”? ?!?!

  4. harrydobyharrydoby says:

    Not a peep from Republicans with the rationale that mailing the ballots would be a waste of time, since presumably, none would be returned as votes.

    Nope, the Post openly states that sending more ballots out would have the unfortunate effect of getting more votes.  So much for defending Democracy!

    And that of course exposes the GOP motives, as we all know, to be voter suppression, especially if those voters are the “wrong” kind.

    As for not being cost-effective (the official GOP excuse), we went to a mostly mail ballot system to save money vs. setting up a large number of polling places.  Even with the added cost of mailing all voters their rightfully due ballots, the overall cost savings is still significant vs. the old system.

    Of course, just eliminating voting completely would be the cheapest solution.  Then the GOP could simply declare themselves “The Permanent Majority” and rule as dictators.

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