DENVER – A state House committee will hold a hearing Monday to consider a bill to clear up confusion in the “Voter Access & Modernized Elections Act” passed last year that opened the door to election fraud and errors that contributed to Broomfield’s election debacle – now challenged in complaints and lawsuits.
Critics contend the proposed measure this year, HB 1164, to create a new “Colorado Local Government Election Code,” could cause more chaos, invite “gypsy voters” and dismiss pending lawsuits and complaints against Broomfield.
“This is the ‘fix it’ bill for the ills of HB 1303” passed last year, said Marilyn Marks, who cofounded the nonprofit Citizen Center to protect election integrity. “This bill, HB 1164, through its specific provisions essentially allows local elections to be conducted with no election code.”
“It is merely a bill to legalize lawless elections,” declared Marks of HB 1164 that will be heard Monday in the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.
Both so-called election reform bills were the brainchild of House Majority Leader Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D-Boulder) and fellow Democrat lawmakers.
The bill, critics assert, could nullify complaints and legal actions attempting to resolve the error-riddled Broomfield election in November. The complaints are filed with the Secretary of State, but under this bill that would be inadmissible.
“Any election, and any acts or omission relating thereto, conducted between August 7, 2013, and the effective date of this section and that were not invalidated pursuant to part 2 of Article II of this title are deemed and held be legal and valid in all respects,” states HB 1164.
The bill could roll out the welcome mat for “gypsy voters” who live elsewhere but could show up suddenly to affect the election.
According to Marks’ analysis, HB 1164 would reduce the residency requirement to zero days to register and vote in local elections for district boards, township trustees, city councils and tax questions.
The checks and balances of signature verification would vanish. The bill would eliminate criminal penalties – up to 18 months in prison – for registering to vote multiple times in an election, providing false names and addresses or impersonating another person.
Poll watchers and election judges could be swiftly fired but have no recourse to appeal the action.
“This 133 pages long bill is poorly written and ill considered,” said Gregory Golyanksy, president of Colorado Union of Taxpayers (CUT).
“CUT urges everyone to oppose HB14-1164,” said Golyansky. “We also urge Colorado lawmakers to find a more common sense approach to dealing with the damage done by last year’s elections ‘modernization’ bill.”
Hope may be in the wings if the Democrat-dominated legislature gets on board. Republican Sens. Kevin Grantham of Canon City and Kevin Lundberg of Berthoud plan to introduce a bill this week to repeal last year’s fiasco, HB 1303.
“The best way to fix it is to admit HB 1303 was a disaster,” Lundberg told TCO. “Our bill is written in a clean and straightforward fashion. After the repeal, we can start over.”