Elections chief leery of proposal to allow same-day registration

Scott Gessler

Legislation that would allow for Election Day voter registration in Colorado demands too much too soon of an unproven computer system, Secretary of State Scott Gessler said.

Gessler, a Republican, said he and his office were “frozen out” of talks in which HB1303 was drafted by Democratic legislators and liberal organizations.

As he has learned of the contents of the bill, “I’ve become more and more alarmed about the procedural aspects of it,” Gessler told The Daily Sentinel editorial board.

The system proposed in the legislation would for the first time create a statewide pollbook, a daunting task in and of itself, Gessler said.

Bill proponents, including Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner and the Colorado County Clerks Association, have said the system has enough checks to allow registration on Election Day.

The goals of the legislation, specifically to increase turnout and reduce costs, could be more difficult to accomplish than supporters have said, Gessler said.

Colorado already turned out the third-highest percentage of voters in the nation, even more than among the other battleground states, Gessler said.

“We are a star performer across the board” in voter turnout, he said.

Anticipated savings also could be “ephemeral” or merely shifted to his office as the state moves into a uniform voting system.

The bill mandates the use of mail-in ballots statewide for all elections, but many Colorado voters, 25 percent to 30 percent, prefer to cast their ballots in person.

It’s also possible that mail-in ballots aren’t cast in the secrecy afforded by the voting booth, Gessler said.


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