Ballot Box Jefferson County

In this file photo, a Jefferson County man drops his ballot into a secure collection box located outside Lakewood's municipal building on Nov. 5, 2019. Mail ballots start going out to Colorado's 3.4 million registered voters on Feb. 10, 2020, ahead of the state's March 3 presidential primary.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced on Tuesday that Colorado’s automatic voter registration system is now operational statewide.

In 2019 the General Assembly, as part of a “Democracy Package,” passed a bill to automatically register voters when they obtained or renewed their driver license. County clerks would send the voters a notice explaining what happened, and give them an option of declining the registration or affiliating with a political party. The same procedure would apply for Medicaid applicants. Previously, Division of Motor Vehicles customers were asked whether they wanted to register or not.

“Automatic voter registration increases participation in our democracy and helps Coloradans vote,” said Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, one of the bill’s sponsors. “I’m proud Colorado continues to lead the country in ballot security and access."

Nationwide, one-third of voter registrations originate through the DMV. In 2016, Oregon implemented the first automatic voter registration system. Like Colorado, an individual may return a their voter notification to request an opt-out.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, such a process allows for voter rolls that reflect current addresses of citizens. Opponents counter that automatic registration may infringe on the right to free expression, and that there may not be a subsequent increase in turnout. Last year, FiveThirtyEight found mixed results when analyzing whether turnout was higher among those who voluntarily registered and those who were subject to automatic registration.

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