It would institute a statewide mail ballot system, augmented by county-based vote centers that still allow people to cast ballots in person. It cleans up problems that stem from inconsistency.
We have concerns, however, about the bill's move to same-day voter registration. We worry the bill mandates a timeline that is too aggressive, particularly since it relies on technology that hasn't been tested.
It's a chicken-and-egg argument: Without the bill, there would be no imperative to create the real-time, Web-based access to the state's SCORE voter registration database. But you can't test what doesn't exist.
Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who opposes the bill, makes persuasive arguments about the cost and difficulty of creating such a program on a fast-track basis. They must devise specifications, write the software and test it before the fall elections.
Democrats would have had this input had they included him in the creation of the bill, but they didn't. Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, told us Gessler, a Republican, was excluded because he had "neither a willingness nor a common goal" in pursuing election reforms.
Gessler can be a prickly presence and has had a hand in creating the animosity that exists between himself and Democrats. Perhaps he now sees how it affects his ability to function as secretary of state.
With majorities in both legislative chambers and a Democratic governor, Democrats apparently see no need to consult Gessler. Yet, by cutting him out of the bill-drafting process, they lose the expertise of the professionals who work in his office.
When we told Donetta Davidson, head of the Colorado County Clerks Association, that the secretary's Internet technology specialist, whom she knows, had a problem with the timeline, she immediately gave credence to the concern. "I would never question [his] integrity," she said.
Which is exactly our point.
More time should be allowed for development and testing of same-day registration technology. Consideration also should be given to disallowing voter registration very close to or on Election Day in the first years of using the technology. That way, clerks can become familiar with it and can ensure registrants are legitimate voters. Or perhaps the bill should require last-minute registrants to show a photo ID.
As we said, we like many of the ideas in the bill and have supported them over the years. We'd hate to see these good reforms get a bad reputation by being implemented too fast.
The Denver Post, April 17