DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado is enacting a sweeping new election law in advance of the 2020 election. County clerks are scrambling to implement the law that will cost the state millions of dollars, and that some argue, is a solution in search of a problem.
The law is aimed, in part, at improving young voter turnout. The progressive nonprofit New Era Colorado pushed for the law.
It requires voting centers and drop boxes on every college campus and allows 17 year olds to vote in the primary if they turn 18 before the general election.
“When we bring voter registration to their communities, to their high schools, to their campuses we find that they respond really well,” said Lizzy Stephan with New Era.
But, some county clerks question whether the changes are necessary.
“We have the highest amount of access in the country. We have the highest turnout rates, the highest registration rates,” said Pam Anderson, head of the County Clerks Association. She says 95% of Coloradans – including young people – vote by mail, yet the bill calls for $3 million dollars in equipment for new in-person vote centers.
Anderson says the law will require more poll workers and election judges, which are already in short supply.
“Our concern is making sure we have enough time to get that bill implemented. They’re already pivoting to getting ready for next year which is going to be a very big year.”
Anderson expects record turnout in 2020, and Stephan insists the new law will ensure young people are a part of that.
“Colorado already leads the nation when it comes to election security and election access, but now we’re going to be leading the nation by being one of the most youthful friendly states in the entire country.”
While adding vote centers on college campuses, the law bars them at some local police stations – where minorities might be intimidated – unless the Secretary of State grants a waiver. It also adds 69 new 24-hour drop boxes statewide.
The Clerks Association says the changes will cost more than $3 million approved so far.