The rest of the country could learn a lot about fair and safe elections from Colorado, Secretary of State Jena Griswold said on a national press call Thursday with other Democratic election officials discussing voting, partisan politics and dark money.
Thursday's call, organized by left-leaning organizations, comes ahead of the U.S. Senate taking up the For the People Act, H.R. 1, which passed the U.S. House 220-210 Monday, with Colorado's congressional delegation divided along party lines. Given Senate Democrats' narrow majority and the likelihood of a filibuster, the bill has little chance, however.
Democrats said its aim is to reduce the influence of money in politics poured in by groups that aren't required to identify its source, while ensuring fairness and weeding out political corruption, with an overall goal of providing accurate, accessible elections.
In the call, Griswold said "2020 put our democracy to the test," with a pandemic and President Donald Trump questioning the fairness of the process and whether he was cheated by vote-counting in various swing states.
"In the face of it all, we had the most secure elections in our nation's history and increased voting access tremendously," Griswold said, noting 83% of Americans had access to voting by mail, which Colorado has uniformly provided without previous controversy since 2013.
She boasted, "Colorado is considered the gold standard for access and security," with the highest percent of registered eligible voters in the country and the second highest turnout, behind Minnesota.
"If you provide access, people will vote," Griswold said.
She said Colorado passed a comprehensive campaign and lobbyist reform legislation in 2019, as well as voters approving legislative and congressional redistricting by independent commissions.
"We've already passed H.R. 1 for the state, and it worked," Griswold said. "We have a great election model in Colorado, but unfortunately not all states do. Many states right now are trying to roll back access."
She appraised the attempts that disproportionately affect communities of color as "modern Jim Crow policies, and they're unAmerican, plain and simple."
Griswold was joined on the call by Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson with left-leaning advocates: End Citizens United and Let America Vote Action Fund President Tiffany Muller and Stand Up America President Sean Eldridge.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said last month that bill was a “stunning one-party takeover of voting laws and elections in our country.”
He accused the Democrats in Washington of hypocrisy.
“Rewriting the rules of American politics to exclusively benefit one side — that was Democrats’ false charge in Georgia,” McConnell said, “but it’s exactly what they’re trying to do in this Capitol on a national scale.”
Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to bring the bill to the Senate floor, regardless of its probable fate, to force Republicans to vote on it.
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado is one of the Senate bill's original co-sponsors.
His office said the bill incorporates some of Bennet's previous voting proposals, including an attempt to ban partisan gerrymandering and expanding the number of people who have to register as lobbyists, as well as expanding voting access to college students and voting by mail.
“The For the People Act is the most consequential reform proposal in a generation," Bennet said in a statement. "It includes common-sense ideas that are broadly supported by the American people, from creating automatic and same-day voter registration to expanding options for early voting and vote by mail.
"We know these reforms work because they’ve worked in Colorado.”