Same-day registration won’t improve voting

Voting should be a relatively accessible activity, with few obstacles placed between citizens and ballots. But that doesn’t mean it should be as easy as, say, picking up a sixpack at the local beer emporium: Show up without having previously registering, flash your ID, make your selection and you’re good to go.

Unfortunately, a proposed bill that’s been drafted in Denver aims to do just that. In the process, it could significantly increase the possibility of voter fraud.

The good news is that there’s been such an outcry about the proposed bill that it may not even be introduced. We hope it isn’t.

Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, a former state representative from Grand Junction, is a thoughtful man who considers what’s best for Coloradans. But it doesn’t appear he adequately vetted this plan before supporting the bill being pushed by House Speaker Terrance Carroll, a Denver Democrat.

Carroll and Buescher say they consulted with county clerks before drafting the plan. The aim is to save money, reduce the burden on clerks and make it easier for people to vote, Carroll said.

Adams County Clerk Karen Long, a Democrat and the head of the county clerks’ association, said members of her group were not involved in putting the bill together. They saw a draft of the bill for the first time last week, she told The Denver Post.

Too bad they weren’t more involved from the beginning. They might have pointed potential problems with some provisions.

The proposal has been revised and redrafted. Since it has yet to be introduced, nothing is final. But one draft from last week would allow not only allow new voters to register up to the Friday prior to an election, it would authorize same-day registration for elections in 2012 and later.

It also includes language that would allow people who send in mail-in ballots to show up at a polling place on Election Day and cast another ballot. County clerks would have to find and destroy the mail-in ballot. That is a prescription for problems and delay.

The mandate that each county provide mail-in ballots for all elections would be a costly burden for some counties.

Some election reforms are in order. But Carroll and Buescher need to fully involve county clerks and officials with both parties in developing a new proposal.


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