Secretary of State Jena Griswold is slamming a proposal from a Republican senator that would require Colorado voters to cast ballots in person as “a partisan effort to suppress the voices of Coloradans.”
That provision in a bill introduced today by Sen. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, would represent a significant departure from voter behavior in last fall’s election, where Griswold said 94% of voters returned a mail ballot.
“Senate Bill 21-007 would disenfranchise Coloradans by reducing voter access to mail ballots and making it harder to vote,” Griswold said in a statement. “Colorado’s election model is renowned as the nation’s gold standard due to both our election access and election security.”
She called for the bill to be “resoundingly rejected.”
Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul López also criticized the bill.
"Senate Bill 007 would take us back to voting the way we did in 1962 - the year of the James Bond movie Dr. No," he said in a statement. "This short-sighted bill is a solution in search of a problem and should be killed in its first committee hearing."
Lundeen’s bill would require voters to cast ballots in person either on election day or in the six-day period leading up to election day. It would still allow voters to cast ballots by mail, but would require voters to opt in to receive a mail-in ballot. Colorado’s current system sends all registered voters a mail ballot.
In an interview with Colorado Politics, Lundeen said the proposal was “drafted as a placeholder” and intended to kickstart the legislative process. He noted that while former Secretaries of State Wayne Williams and Scott Gessler testified at a contentious December Legislative Audit Committee hearing on election integrity called by Republicans, Griswold did not.
Instead, the Secretary of State's office provided written testimony to the committee speaking of "unfounded claims and false narratives made by President Trump’s campaign legal team." Lundeen said that lack of interaction left it up to lawmakers to find a jumping-off point.
“When the Secretary of State did not come interact with the legislature when it convened a hearing to say, ‘How can we improve?’ It causes us to start wherever we can start,” he said. “And so this is the beginning of a conversation.
“That is the purpose of this bill. Let's start a conversation about what we can do to improve Colorado's already good election system.”
This story has been updated to reflect comment from López.