Election law changes benefit voters

La Plata County clerk explains what is new

The Nov. 5 general election ballot includes a range of issues – school district matters, a state constitutional amendment, tax increases and the formation of an improvement district.

But changes in state election law have made it possible for more people to address the issues, La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Lee Parker explained at a public forum Tuesday.

Change didn’t come about through partisan politics or secret meetings, Parker said in an earlier interview. Change was the result of the efforts of the Colorado County Clerks Association, which showed legislators the validity of the modifications they supported.

The changes to registration and voting procedures are contained in House Bill 1330, which was signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper on May 10.

First off, residency time has been reduced from 30 days to 22 days, Parker said. This means a person who establishes a home in the county by Tuesday can register to vote.

Also new is a provision that allows voter registration on Election Day itself, Parker said.

The popularity of voting by mail brought a change. Residents no longer will be moved to an inactive list if they failed to vote in the last general election. Instead, everyone will receive a mail-in ballot.

In the 2012 general election, 74 percent of voters statewide voted by mail, Parker said.

A ballot can be mailed, but it isn’t required. Voters can drop off the ballot at polling centers or drop-off locations; or they can vote in person on election day or as early as Oct. 28.

New technology makes possible the multiple voting options. Throughout Colorado, election officials will rely for the first time on technology through which they can record in real time when a voter casts a ballot by any of the procedures.

La Plata County, which is connected to the system, has a signature-verification system that validates all signatures.

In an effort to interest teenagers in the election process, 16-year-olds can register to vote when they get a driver’s license. Before HB 1330, the age to register was 17. Teens can’t actually vote until they turn 18.

HB 1303 doesn’t change any statutes regarding identification for registering to vote. The last four numbers on a potential voter’s Social Security card is enough to register, but identification is required to vote, Parker said. There are 18 documents that serve as identification.

Parker thinks voting by mail is the wave of the future. She likes the method because it costs half of what in-person voting runs, and county clerks have more control over the system.

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