Guest Commentary: Special Session Needed to Fix Flawed Election Law

September 27, 2013
McNULTY:  The time is now for Governor Hickenlooper to call a special legislative session to clean up the elections mess that  HB 1303 created

McNULTY: The time is now for Governor Hickenlooper to call a special legislative session to clean up the elections mess the Democrats created

Even as county clerks in El Paso and Pueblo counties clear their desks of September’s historic special elections where the Democratic state Senate President John Morse and his freshman Democratic colleague Angela Giron were recalled, clerks across the state are prepping for a heated November off year election — and dealing with recently altered elections laws that offer unworkable contradictions and invitations for voter fraud.

Of course, there’s a lot of cleaning left to do.  In a lot of places.  The recall elections exposed gaping holes and unworkable contradictions in a bill rushed through by Democrats last legislative session that re-wrote Colorado election law.

That law exposed opportunities for rampant election fraud, double balloting and the inability for elections clerks to fact check election day voter registrations.

The poorly written law has been the genesis of lawsuits from both sides of the aisle, with Colorado Libertarians even getting in on some of the legal maneuvering.  With so much hanging in the balance for the elections this November, there is little doubt that, unless the bill’s pitfalls are corrected, there will be more litigation because HB 1303 (as it is commonly known) was rushed and poorly written.

HB 1303 is so bad that even the liberal Denver Post slapped partisan Democrats last April as they were pushing the bill through the legislature.

In the past, a slap from their standard bearer may have caused Democrats pause.  This time, however, partisan Democrats charged – forcing Colorado clerks, taxpayers and voters to pay a the price.

Recently, the Denver Post’s new editorial page editor, Vincent Carroll, took to the editorial page to berate, again, tone-deaf Democrats about consequences of the election fraud bill they passed and Governor Hickenlooper signed.

Carroll wrote earlier this month about “how easy it apparently is under Colorado’s new election law to commit fraud.”  He carried it one step further to point out that “[t]he same-day registration rules under House Bill 1303 are dismayingly lax…”

Carroll’s comments come on the heels of a May editorial he penned where he observed,

“Nor is the risk of two-state registrations the most troubling component of HB 1303. Since the bill mandates hundreds of thousands of ballots be sent to people who either have no intention of voting or who are determined to vote in person at a polling center, it clearly increases the temptation and opportunities for less exotic forms of fraud, too.”

With election law attorneys, editorial pages from Denver to Colorado Springs, county election clerks and knowledgeable lawmakers calling for the law to be fixed, clearly, the law needs to be fixed.  Voter fraud is NOT acceptable, and a law that clearly encourages voter fraud is NOT acceptable.

I have long advocated increased safeguards to protect the integrity of our elections.  Photo identification when voting, additional training for election judges and time for county election clerks to verify new voter registrations are a few of the simple things that can be done to protect our elections against voter fraud and ACORN style abuse.

Each of these simple protections was either ignored, or purposefully made worse by HB 1303.

But there is time to fix the unfairness and gaping holes for fraud and abuse that plague our elections in the wake of this bad bill.

Common sense amendments to improve HB 1303, offered during the initial debate on the bill but rejected by partisan Democrats, can be incorporated into Colorado’s elections laws in time for our critical November elections.

School boards, statewide tax initiatives and local ordinance changes will be on the ballot November 5th.  The last thing we need is to have these elections plagued by lawsuits and fraud resulting from a rushed, poorly written bill.

We can protect the integrity of our elections through changes that can be made during a special session of the legislature called by the Governor.

Governor Hickenlooper doesn’t seem to have an aversion to calling special sessions.  He’s done it before.  It’s even more appropriate to call one to fix a bad bill that invites election fraud.  And, more importantly, to fix it before the poorly worded legislative language leads to unfair results and unequal outcomes.

In Pueblo County, it was positively documented that voters received multiple voter registration cards.  If this had been an all-mail ballot election as contemplated by HB 1303, multiple ballots would have been sent to individual voters in place of multiple voter registration cards.  As voters, we deserve better than this.  And, as Coloradans, we have every reason to expect better.

The time is now for Governor Hickenlooper to call a special legislative session to close the invitation for voter fraud and to clean up the elections mess that has been exposed in the wake of a poorly written elections bill before voter fraud and lawsuits spill over beyond the two special elections that highlighted, in vivid detail, the ease with which elections can be manipulated because of it.

Rep. Frank McNulty was Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives for the 68th General Assembly.  He represents Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

2 Responses to Guest Commentary: Special Session Needed to Fix Flawed Election Law

  1. September 27, 2013 at 9:15 am

    How about actually solving existing problems (like the use of a photocopied bill to vote)?

    Jefferson County could not even handle actual voting on election day 2012. It wasn’t until well into the afternoon that the poll workers could find the names of the registered voters. A full 2/3 of voters were forced to vote provisionally. Many just left the precinct/voter station rather than vote ‘provisionally’ and yet they believe they can handle same-day voter registration and voting?

    IF same day registration is law, those ballots MUST be provisional–and only approved upon proof of actually residing in that precinct post-election day.


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