BILL SUMMARY for HB09-1015
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON STATE, VETERANS, & MILITARY AFFAIRS
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The committee recessed.
12:19 PM -- House Bill 09-1015
The committee returned to order. Representative Murray, prime sponsor, presented House Bill 09-1015, concerning certain actions taken by the designated election official in conducting primary elections. Representative Murray discussed the functions and benefits of the bill, and referenced a forthcoming amendment to the bill. Representative Murray also discussed the fiscal impact of the bill, and described the fundamental differences between primary and general elections. Representative Murray then discussed the potential for amending the bill to address certain issues, including efforts to involve unaffiliated voters in primaries and engage inactive voters.
Representative Murray responded to questions regarding the distinction between major and minor parties in the bill.
The following persons testified regarding House Bill 09-1015:
12:30 PM -- Mr. Daniel Willis, representing himself, testified regarding the bill. Mr. Willis discussed the exclusion of unaffiliated voters from primary elections when the election is mail ballot only, and certain logistical issues involving primaries. Mr. Willis then proposed alternatives for involving unaffiliated voters in primary elections. Mr. Willis responded to questions regarding potential solutions for engaging unaffiliated voters in primaries when the primary is all mail ballot. Discussion ensued regarding certain polling requirements under the federal Help America Vote Act.
12:37 PM -- Ms. Sheryle Hutter, representing the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition and the Equal Justice Foundation, testified in opposition to House Bill 09-1015. Ms. Hutter discussed the inability of certain populations to use mail ballots, and federal requirements for mail ballot elections.
12:39 PM -- Ms. Margit Johansson, representing Coloradans for Voting Integrity, testified in opposition to the bill. Ms. Johansson discussed ballot security, the complexity of conducting an election at the county level, and the potential for voter fraud in mail ballot elections and elections allowing early voting. Ms. Johannson then discussed problems in maintaining the secret ballot in all mail ballot elections.
12:46 PM -- Mr. Phil Hayes, representing the Colorado American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations, testified in opposition to House Bill 09-1015. Mr. Hayes discussed the processes and outcome of the recent general election, the need for caution in changing the primary election system, and the potential for creating uniform voting requirements throughout the state. Mr. Hayes also discussed the merits of waiting for the Election Reform Commission to weigh in on certain issues before elections-related legislation is passed, and the potential for new voters to be discouraged from voting in the future if election laws are changed. Mr. Hayes responded to questions regarding dialogue with the Election Reform Commission on certain issues.
12:51 PM -- Ms. Elena Nunez, representing Common Cause, testified in opposition to the bill. Ms. Nunez discussed problems with mail ballot elections, and the need to provide alternatives to voting by mail. Ms. Nunez then weighed in on certain issues previously addressed. Ms. Nunez responded to questions regarding the applicability of certain problems with mail balloting experienced during general elections to primary elections.
12:55 PM -- Ms. Lynne Mason, representing the Colorado Education Association, testified in opposition to House Bill 09-1015. Ms. Mason discussed the treatment of inactive and unaffiliated voters under the bill, and the need for voters to have choices in voting methods. Ms. Mason also discussed the potential for creating statewide elections standards.
12:57 PM -- Clerks Jack Arrowsmith and Karen Long, representing the Colorado County Clerks Association, testified in favor of the bill. Clerk Arrowsmith discussed the effect of instituting permanent mail balloting on voter participation and satisfaction, and the potential for cost savings in instituting all mail balloting for primary elections. Clerk Arrowsmith then discussed security efforts with mail ballots. Clerk Long commented on the ability of poll watchers to oversee the counting of mail-in ballots. Discussion ensued regarding options for involving unaffiliated voters in primary elections, and past efforts to institute all mail ballot elections. Discussion followed regarding the ability of unaffiliated voters to affiliate on election day under the bill. Clerk Long responded to questions regarding cost comparisons between mail ballot elections and elections conducted at polling places.
01:07 PM -- Ms. Pam Anderson, representing Jefferson County, testified in support of House Bill 09-1015. Clerk Anderson discussed recent primary elections in which certain races were uncontested, and the widespread use of mail balloting in Jefferson County, resulting in under-use of polling places during primaries. Clerk Anderson then discussed the fiscal impact of maintaining polling places during primaries, and problems in maintaining staffing at polling places. Clerk Anderson also discussed the views of voters on the availability of different voting options during elections. Discussion ensued regarding the successes experienced during the 2008 general election.
01:14 PM -- Mr. Richard Coolidge, representing the Secretary of State, testified in favor of the bill, and conveyed Secretary Buescher's support for the bill. Mr. Coolidge responded to questions regarding the potential for amending House Bill 09-1015 to engage unaffiliated voters during primary elections under the bill.
The bill was laid over until Tuesday, January 27th.
The committee adjourned.