BILL SUMMARY for HB13-1303
SENATE COMMITTEE ON STATE, VETERANS, & MILITARY AFFAIRS
|Votes: View--> ||Action Taken: |
|Refer House Bill 13-1303 to the Committee on Appro||PASS|
04:42 PM -- House Bill 13-1303
Senator Jones, vice-chair, called the committee to order and reminded the audience of committee procedures.
Senator Giron, sponsor, presented House Bill 13-1303 to the committee. The bill would make a number of changes to the state's elections procedures, including:
Senator Giron explained how she became involved with the bill, and she discussed the ways the bill would modernize the election process.
• requiring county clerks to mail a ballot to all active registered voters in an election,
• eliminating precinct polling places in favor of voter service centers with extended hours prior to election day,
• authorizing voter registration on election day,
• reducing residency requirements for registering to vote,
• eliminating the "inactive-failed to vote" status,
• permitting county clerks to send some election-related communications to voters electronically,
• requiring additional checks against the National Changes of Address (NCOA) database and databases of death records and felon lists, and
• creating a Voter Access and Modernized Elections Commission to evaluate the implementation of the bill.
Senator Giron described the protections in the bill to reduce voter fraud. She discussed the process of drafting the bill and the groups involved in that process, and she noted the support of most of the county clerks in the state.
04:55 PM -- Pam Anderson, Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder and President of the Colorado County Clerks Association (CCCA), testified in support of the bill. She described the clerks' work after the 2012 election to address needed changes to the state's election system, as well as the way the association comes to its legislative positions. She noted that four members of the association opposed House Bill 13-1303, but the rest supported it. Ms. Anderson discussed the fiscal impact of the bill on counties.
05:04 PM -- Hillary Hall, Boulder County Clerk and Recorder, testified in support of the bill. She discussed the bill's unique model for Colorado, and she described the benefits to implementing the bill in 2013. Ms. Hall discussed the commission proposed in the bill and the benefits of this oversight.
05:10 PM -- Tiffany Parker, La Plata County Clerk and Recorder, testified in support of the bill. She discussed her experience with mail balloting, including Oregon's all-mail ballot system. She explained that the system proposed in HB 13-1303 does not require mail balloting the way Oregon does, and she discussed the role of vote centers.
05:14 PM -- Debra Johnson, Denver Clerk and Recorder, testified in support of the bill. She discussed the inactive-failed to vote (I-FTV) status and the benefits to eliminating it. She also noted the importance of the commission proposed in the bill.
05:17 PM -- Amber McReynolds, Denver Director of Elections, testified in support of the bill. She explained the benefits of eliminating the precinct residency requirement currently in statute. She also discussed the bill's provisions to increase checks against the NCOA database. She gave committee members a chart (Attachment A) demonstrating Denver's tests using the state's voter registration database, known as SCORE.
Ms. Anderson discussed voter fraud, explaining existing provisions to prevent fraud. She described Jefferson County's experience with mail ballots and the process the county has in place to validate these ballots. She added that the state has criminal statutes in place to prosecute voter fraud. She continued to discuss the state's efforts to ensure that its elections are secure and validated.
Senator Hudak and Ms. Anderson discussed county efforts to properly train election judges, as well as the bill's cost impacts for Jefferson County. They continued to discuss same-day registration. Ms. Anderson explained that the CCCA opposed same-day registration in the past, but believes the system proposed in the bill will work. Ms. McReynolds and Ms. Anderson clarified these provisions.
Senator Harvey and Ms. McReynolds discussed voter affirmations of residency. They continued to discuss existing methods of verifying a voter's identity and how those methods would apply for same-day registration. Senator Harvey and Ms. Anderson discussed the role of provisional ballots in this process. Senator Giron provided committee members with a list of acceptable forms of identification for voting (Attachment B).
Senator Harvey and Senator Giron discussed the process of drafting the bill and those who participated in that process. Ms. Anderson noted that much of the bill's length comes from technical adjustments.
Senator Crowder and Ms. Anderson discussed the positions of clerks in the state and the association's assessment of legislation.
06:05 PM -- Carol Tone, representing the League of Women Voters of Colorado, testified in support of the bill. She discussed the bill's provisions to simplify and modernize elections in the state, as well as clean the voter rolls.
06:07 PM -- Jean Nofles, representing the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), testified in support of the bill. She discussed the importance of the right to vote and the ability of the election process to protect that vote. She explained that the bill would remove barriers to voting.
06:10 PM -- J. Brandeis Sperandeo, representing himself and his wife, testified in support of the bill. He described the problems he had in maintaining permanent mail ballot status. He discussed other confusing provisions related to state election procedures. Senator Harvey and Mr. Sperandeo discussed the use of provisional ballots in situations where voters have been deactivated.
06:15 PM -- Garett Rappenhagen, representing Vote Vets, testified in support of the bill. He discussed the unique problems military members face when voting. Senator Hudak and Mr. Rappenhagen discussed the bill's benefits for military members and veterans.
06:19 PM -- Faith Gross, representing the Legal Center for People with Disabilities and Older People, testified in support of the bill. She expressed support for vote centers that will be fully Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant, allowing more voters to use accessible voting machines.
06:22 PM -- Steve Fenberg, representing New Era Colorado, testified in support of the bill. He noted that the bill would make the process of voting more consistent from election to election. He stated that the bill is good for democracy.
06:24 PM -- James Johnson, representing the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), testified in support of the bill. He explained that the bill would encourage citizen participation by making it easier to register to vote. He discussed his experience as an elections judge. Senator Harvey and Mr. Johnson discussed the use of vote centers under current law.
06:28 PM -- Patricia Ziegler, representing herself, testified in support of the bill. She discussed the importance of voting, and she noted the benefits of better adherence to ADA standards at vote centers. Committee members discussed this testimony with Ms. Ziegler.
06:32 PM -- Vija Handley, representing herself, testified in support of the bill. She described her experiences voting and the benefits of mail ballots. Senator Crowder and Ms. Handley discussed the integrity of elections.
06:36 PM -- Kathy Maestas, representing herself, testified in support of the bill. She noted that having flexibility in voting methods is useful for busy parents like herself. Senator Harvey and Ms. Maestas discussed the availability of mail ballots under current law.
06:41 PM -- Elena Nunez, representing Colorado Common Cause, testified in support of the bill. She noted provisions of existing law that are confusing and hinder voter participation, and she stated that the bill would address problems her organization has observed.
06:43 PM -- Daneya Esgar, representing herself, testified in support of the bill. She described her experience voting by mail ballot. She added that many people in her community are limited in their ability to get to polling places.
06:46 PM -- Mary Diaz, representing herself, testified in support of the bill. She described her experience voting by mail. She stated that the bill would result in more people being able to vote.
06:48 PM -- Amparo Flores, representing herself, testified in support of the bill. She told the committee that she enjoys voting in person but appreciates individuals' ability to choose the best way to vote for them.
06:50 PM -- Rev. Andrew Midgyett, representing Together Colorado, testified in support of the bill. He described his work at Shorter Community Church and discussed the benefits of increased flexibility for voters.
06:53 PM -- Amber Garcia, representing herself, testified in support of the bill. She explained that the bill's provisions for extended voter registration will result in more people being able to vote.
06:55 PM -- Gary Roll, representing the National Association of Postal Supervisors, testified in support of the bill. He described his organization and told the committee about the benefits of voting by mail. Senator Hudak discussed this testimony with Mr. Roll.
Senator Harvey and Ms. Anderson discussed special district elections and how they will be affected by the bill.
07:04 PM -- Scott Gessler, Colorado Secretary of State, testified against the bill. Wayne Williams, El Paso County Clerk and Recorder, and Matt Crane, Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder, also introduced themselves. Committee members also received written opposition testimony from Steve Moreno, Weld County Clerk and Recorder (Attachment C). Secretary Gessler expressed concern with the process by which the bill was drafted, noting that his office was excluded from this process. He discussed the high levels of voter participation in Colorado and his office's work to encourage voter registration. He noted problems with the commission proposed in the bill, as well as other problems he sees with the bill.
Secretary Gessler discussed the City and County of Denver's 2006 experience with electronic poll books, which he explained is analogous to the statewide electronic voter verification system proposed in the bill. He expressed concern with the bill's limited time frame for his office to implement new provisions. He also raised concerns about the bill's fiscal note, stating that the bill would cost his office more money than the note anticipates. Secretary Gessler stated that the bill would reduce the number of polling places in the state, and he explained that the state's voters have previously rejected an all vote by mail system. He continued to outline problems he sees with the bill.
07:24 PM -- Wayne Williams, El Paso County Clerk and Recorder, testified against the bill. He explained that the SCORE system is unable to catch voters who register multiple times. He provided an example of this (Attachment D). Mr. Williams discussed the bill's changes regarding voter registration drives, noting further benefits to having 29 days between election day and the close of voter registration. He also described problems with the bill's changes to voter residency requirements. He noted that many voters have chosen not to be permanent mail voters, and he provided statistics on this by legislative district (Attachment E). He added that cuts to the US Postal Service could further harm the mail ballot system.
Mr. Williams explained the costs he anticipates for his county, and he provided a cost comparison (Attachment F) to committee members. He continued to address problems in the bill.
Matt Crane, Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder, discussed his concerns with the bill. He questioned the voter service centers mandated by the bill and estimated the costs of the bill for Arapahoe County. Mr. Crane stated that the same-day registration established in the bill will threaten the integrity of Colorado's elections. He expressed his view that it would be very easy to commit voter fraud under the bill. He said that if same-day registration is to remain in the bill, it should be amended to allow counties to provide a provisional ballot to certain individuals. He also suggested that photo identification should be required for same-day registration. He continued to discuss possible amendments to the bill.
07:44 PM -- Kurt Schlegel, Elbert County Commissioner, testified against the bill. He stated that the bill will increase costs for local governments. He urged the committee to amend the bill to phase the process in or perhaps make it permissive for counties.
Mr. Crane and Secretary Gessler responded to questions from Senator Harvey regarding ways to prevent voter fraud, with Mr. Williams weighing in as well. Senator Hudak asked Mr. Crane to expand upon his comments concerning ways to commit voter fraud. Committee members, Mr. Williams, and Mr. Crane discussed the limitations of existing voter identification laws.
Senator Hudak and Secretary Gessler discussed the SCORE system. Secretary Gessler stated that the system works well for what it is designed to do, but that it has limitations. Mr. Williams added that internet connectivity is not completely reliable, which could lead to problems checking SCORE on election day. Senator Harvey and Secretary Gessler discussed residency requirements under the bill and under current law.
08:03 PM -- Jeff Kelly, representing Colorado Voter Protection, testified against the bill. He gave committee members a false electricity bill (Attachment G) and noted that this bill would serve as identification in an election. He expressed concern that HB 13-1303 will increase fraud.
08:06 PM -- Jim August, representing himself and his wife, testified against the bill. He described an experiment in Boulder County to automate the handling of mail ballots and expressed concern that this experiment failed. Senator Harvey, Senator Jones, and Mr. August discussed whether Boulder County's 2012 elections have been legally certified.
08:09 PM -- Al Kolwicz, representing the Colorado Voter Group, testified against the bill. He expressed concern that Colorado's voter integrity groups were not included in the drafting process and have not been allowed to observe meetings of the CCCA. He noted that the bill does not replace eliminated functions of the poll book, and he discussed further problems with the bill.
08:12 PM -- Wendy Warner, Chair of the Denver County Republicans, testified against the bill. She explained that the bill would eliminate the time period needed to verify a voter's registration before an election. She added that urban areas like Denver have a high turnover of voters, who may continue to receive ballots after they have moved away. Senator Harvey and Ms. Warner discussed the decrease in election day polling places, and the subsequent reduction in poll watchers, as a result of the bill.
08:15 PM -- Janice Taylor, representing herself, testified against the bill. She stated that the state's elections currently work, and they allow citizens to participate in the democratic process.
08:17 PM -- Margit Johansson, representing Coloradans for Voting Integrity, testified against the bill. She discussed her concerns with voter fraud, and she noted that there are more protections against fraud when people vote at precinct polling places.
08:20 PM -- Susan Luenser, representing herself, testified against the bill. She stated that voter participation in Colorado is already high, and she expressed concern that same-day registration is too harmful without improving elections.
08:22 PM -- Kerry Ann McHugh, representing herself as the former mayor of Georgetown, testified against the bill. She expressed concern with Georgetown's most recent local election and the recount process, noting that while issues like this persist, the state's system should not be dramatically revamped.
08:24 PM -- Cindy Acree, representing herself, testified against the bill. She discussed same-day registration in other states and explained that those states have additional safeguards to prevent voter fraud. She further noted concerns with the additional responsibilities the bill would give to election judges, suggesting that they may need additional training.
08:27 PM -- Mary Eberle, representing the Citizen Center, testified against the bill. She noted that county clerk is a partisan position. She discussed the possibility of fraud through signature duplication, and she gave committee members examples of this problem (Attachment H). Senator Harvey and Ms. Eberle discussed Ms. Eberle's experience on the Boulder County canvassing board and her concerns with voter fraud. Senator Harvey and Ms. Eberle continued to discuss the ability of poll watchers to observe election processes.
08:36 PM -- Pauline Olvera, representing herself, testified against the bill. She responded to previous testimony, explaining that fraudulent votes invalidate the hard work of those who vote legitimately. She stated that protecting votes should be a priority for the legislature, and she asked that the committee amend the bill to improve election security.
08:38 PM -- Judy Merkel, representing herself, testified against the bill. She explained that she has served as a poll watcher and observed many problems at a Jefferson County vote center.
08:41 PM -- John Whiteside, representing himself, testified against the bill. He provided the committee with a written copy of his testimony (Attachment I), and he discussed his concerns with same day voter registration. He added that the bill would make it harder to audit elections with a paper trail.
08:44 PM -- Celeste Gamache, representing herself, testified against the bill. She described her experience voting as a military member, and she expressed concern that the bill opens voting up to fraud.
08:47 PM -- Ken Marble, representing himself, testified against the bill. He suggested that a better identification process for individual voters be put into place. Senator Harvey responded to this testimony.
08:49 PM -- Amy Mitchell, representing herself and her husband, testified against the bill. She expressed concern that her business licensing fees would be increased to fund the needs of the Secretary of State's office under the bill. She stated that the only demand for same-day registration is to game the system.
08:51 PM -- Lana Warkocz, representing herself, testified against the bill. She stated that the bill would lead to rampant voter fraud, allowing a variety of ineligible voters to participate. She suggested that better voter identification is necessary. Senator Harvey and Ms. Warkocz discussed her experience as a poll watcher.
08:54 PM -- Terri Carver, representing herself, testified against the bill. She described her military experience and her work as a voting assistance officer during her military career. She expressed her concerns with relying on an internet system and the limited time frame for reviewing residency issues.
08:56 PM -- Russell Haas, representing himself, testified against the bill. He discussed a recall election in Wisconsin, stating that many people were paid to come into the state just to vote in the recall. He noted that same-day registration would make such actions very easy. He added that those who show up on election day without reviewing their ballots would be unprepared to vote. Senator Harvey and Mr. Haas discussed close legislative races and the potential for mischief as a result of same day registration. Senator Giron responded to this discussion.
09:03 PM -- Janet Juell, representing herself, testified against the bill. She discussed the responsibilities of voters, and she expressed concern with voter fraud. She stated that the bill makes changes too quickly.
09:07 PM -- James Hoffman, representing himself, testified against the bill. He described problems with same-day registration, noting that it would lead to ineligible votes being cast.
09:09 PM -- Andrew Struttman, representing himself, testified against the bill. He expressed concern that the bill virtually eliminates neighborhood voting, and he discussed the cultural benefits of this shared civic experience.
09:11 PM -- Denise Denny, representing herself, testified against the bill. She asked that the committee defeat the bill in order to preserve the integrity of the state's elections.
09:14 PM -- Sue Meals, representing herself and others in El Paso County, testified against the bill. She discussed her experience as a voter, and she expressed concern with further reductions in the number of polling places.
09:16 PM -- Nikki Mata, representing herself, testified against the bill. She described problems at vote centers in Arapahoe County during the 2012 election and expressed concern that the bill would exacerbate these problems.
09:19 PM -- Francesca Straus, representing herself, testified against the bill. She described her experience as a poll watcher in Arapahoe County, and she noted particular concern with provisional ballots. She added that the bill was rushed and the process behind the bill was problematic.
09:20 PM -- Steve Dorman, representing himself, testified against the bill. He stated that the bill lacks upsides while creating significant downsides relating to voter fraud.
09:23 PM -- Ron Michel, representing himself, testified against the bill. He suggested that the bill be postponed until its provisions can be studied further.
09:25 PM -- Sally Oltmans, representing herself, testified against the bill. She stated that the bill devalues her vote and opens the state to rampant voter fraud.
09:27 PM -- Jacob Viano, representing himself, testified against the bill. He explained that Colorado's elections are currently successful and do not need to be fixed. He stated that sufficient methods to register to vote exist under current law. He suggested that the committee be concerned with the Secretary of State's opposition to the bill.
Senator Jones read testimony from Jack Arrowsmith, Douglas County Clerk (Attachment J).
Senator Giron explained that the bill would improve voting integrity. Senator Harvey responded to the written testimony from Jack Arrowsmith, and he discussed his concerns with the bill.
Senator Giron summarized her support for the bill. Committee members explained their positions on the bill.
|TIME: || 09:51:09 PM|
|MOTION:||Refer House Bill 13-1303 to the Committee on Appropriations. The motion passed on a vote of 3-2.|
YES: 3 NO: 2 EXC: 0 ABS: 0 FINAL ACTION: PASS
The committee adjourned.