AP's Ivan Moreno:
[An election reform] bill of more than 100 pages is expected to be introduced this week, likely sparking a big partisan fight over whether the changes benefit one party over the other.
Supporters of the changes, which also include eliminating the so-called "inactive voter" status, say the goal is to make voting more accessible.
"I think people are like me, they just want people engaged in the Democratic process," said Democratic Sen. Angela Giron, one of the bill sponsors. She insisted they didn't exclude Republicans from the process.
Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who oversees elections and has butted heads with Democrats on a range of issues, said the bill was "written in complete secrecy excluding anyone who may have a different point of view."
What we know about the legislation in question, expected to drop tomorrow, is that it makes a number of changes to Colorado's election system, with an eye toward resolving unintended barriers to voting, and modernizing procedures to reflect the fact that voting registration is no longer paper-based. With the ability to instantly verify a voter's status and voting history, many longstanding practices, like a deadline for voter registration weeks before the actual election, no longer make sense–and actually create impediments to perfectly legal, eligible voters.
So naturally, Republicans led by Secretary of State Scott Gessler are screaming bloody murder.
One of the major problems in Colorado's election system this bill seeks to resolve is that of so-called "inactive-failed to vote" voters. Historically, it wasn't a big deal for a voter to miss a midterm election. With mail-ballot elections, however, missing a single general election means you in many cases won't get a mail ballot automatically for the next–even if you thought you were a "permanent" vote by mail voter. You'll recall that the dispute over "inactive" voters led to a court battle between Gessler and a number of county clerks, which Gessler lost. Since then, Gessler has paid lip service to compromise on the issue, but also worked to thwart resolution to this problem in the Colorado legislature. Unsurprisingly, Gessler hates this latest actual bill–and is reportedly upset that this issue he claims to be willing to "compromise" on could be included with these other reforms he opposes.
Here's the bottom line, folks: this bill is about making it easier to vote, and solving problems in the voting system that exist today. It's about making sure voters have the maximum number of options to cast their ballot, and the fewest number of arbitrary hurdles and hidden steps to complete. And yes, since there's no actual technical or security problem with doing so, the bill allows eligible voters to register right up through Election Day.
You're going to hear a great deal about this bill over the next couple of weeks. It could be the last remaining major battle in one of the most productive and memorable sessions of the Colorado legislature in our lifetimes. When Republicans charge that these reforms will "benefit one party over the other," the key thing to ask is why that's so. Since clearly the allegation is that the bill will benefit Democrats, why is that? Is this an inference of fraud, for which there is no evidence, or simply an admission that making voting easier will help more currently nonparticipating but eligible people vote–and that is ipso facto bad for Republicans?
Absent the fraud constantly alleged yet never proven, the questions this invites about the true motives for resisting basic modernizations of our election system are much worse than anything Democrats can be accused of. Pre-emptively throwing a fit is a good tactic…for when you do not hold the moral high ground.