DENVER (CBS4)- A divisive proposal at the State Capitol would require Coloradans to show proof of citizenship to vote.
The question is already on the registration form, but some lawmakers believe not everyone tells the truth.
The bill backed by Sen. Ted Harvey was discussed in committee Wednesday afternoon. It proposes that people registering to vote prove they are a U.S. citizen by showing a U.S. passport or state-issued birth certificate.
“Right now, we don’t require that. All you have to do is check a box certifying that you are a citizen of the United States,” said Sen. Ted Harvey, a Republican from Douglas County.
Secretary of State Scott Gessler supports the bill. His office compared the driver’s license database to the voter registration database and found 16,000 people, in the U.S. legally but not citizens, are registered to vote.
“When there’s 16,000 people, that’s a big number and I think it shows a problem,” said Gessler.
Opponents believe the bill would exclude the elderly and low income families who can’t afford the necessary documentation.
“A passport costs $135, and that’s not even the shipping and handling. For a birth certificate issued by the state, that’s about $40,” said Jessie Ulibarri with the ACLU of Colorado.
Gessler said it’s about making sure the voter pool is not diluted and the integrity of the voting system is not harmed.
“We should strive for some kind of compromise so that we have secure voter roles and that it doesn’t impede people from voting,” said Gessler.
A Senate Committee killed the bill Wednesday afternoon, but backers said they’re taking their fight to the house.