Colorado may need rescuing from voting bill

Governor-appointed Secretary of State Bernie Buescher — the former House District 55 representative — appeared at the Mesa County Democratic Assembly on Saturday, seeking support for his candidacy to be elected to the office he now holds by gubernatorial fiat.

We haven’t seen much of the secretary since his re-election to the House was rejected by Mesa County voters and he was placed in the more suitable surroundings of Front Range bureaucrats. So it was surprising to see him here seeking support — that is until I saw the bill being formulated for possible last-minute presentation to the Legislature, tentatively titled, “Modernization of Elections.”

The bill is still under construction and presently weighs in at roughly 69 pages. It has yet to be submitted for a House bill number. It is sponsored by House Speaker Terrance Carroll, with the support of Buescher.

I was excited to take a look at it. After all, modernization sounds so ... progressive.

Here’s what appear to be some of the thrilling highlights:

✔ Same-day registration and voting, by 2012 and registration as late as the Friday prior to the election in 2010 , which I’m sure will not lead to any problems at all with verifying who people might be that are voting or whether they have already voted by mail-in ballot.

✔ Pre-registering 16-year-olds, presumably at the time they get their driver’s license, which is something few 16-year-olds would miss, then automatically registering them as voters when they turn 18.

✔ Allowing third-party organizations to collect and deliver votes to polling stations.

Readers envisioning ACORN vans driving through drifter camps, collecting voting envelopes may not be too far off from the future.

There’s also a provision on mail-in ballots that is interesting, to say the least.

It is Section 1-7-110.5. It says those who use mail-in ballots will still be permitted to vote a regular ballot. Here’s the exact language:

“An elector who has been issued a mail-in ballot as indicated on the list maintained pursuant to section 1-8-106 and who appears at the (voting) service center to vote in person shall be allowed to vote a regular ballot regardless of whether the elector surrenders the previously issued mail-in ballot … if the elector votes a regular ballot in person and the mail-in ballot is received, the mail-in ballot shall be deemed void.”

One doesn’t realize how odd that is until he or she learns that mail-in and regular votes are counted at separate times.

As election attorney and Republican secretary of state candidate Scott Gessler points out, mail-in votes are often counted as early as 15 days prior to Election Day. If this were adopted, in essence, a person would be able to legally cast a vote twice.

Some readers may find these proposals familiar, not just from wild talk of leftist groups, but having been specifically rejected by Colorado voters, as the same-day registration idea was in 2002, when it was a ballot initiative.

I suppose it doesn’t matter if people reject an idea if you can just wait a while and enact it at the end of a legislative session. But this proposal has ignited a firestorm that may keep Speaker Carroll from introducing it as legislation. Let us hope that is the result.

As for Buescher, who apparently supported this “modernization,” he may need rescuing more than support. And if he survives with these ideas, we may need rescuing as well.

Rick Wagner offers more thoughts on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong, which can be reached through the blogs entry at GJSentinel.com.


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