The Senate State, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee approved Senator Johnston’s bill to remove “inactive voter status” from the state election rolls. The bill, SB 12-109, now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Under current procedure, if a voter forgets or decides not to vote in a general election and then fails to respond to a postcard sent from their county clerk verifying their active voter status, they are automatically marked as “inactive.” That designation automatically bumped an estimated 300,000 voters from normal “active” voting rolls in 2010, including Coloradans serving overseas and seniors. Inactive voter status bumps these voters off the permanent mail-in ballot list and imposes additional burdens on citizens to re-activate their voting status.
Senator Johnston said today that “voting is not a fundamental right — voting is the fundmental right,” and compared the “inactive voter” designation to the arbitrary suspension of a gym membership:
Voting is not like a gym membership where it expires after 30 days if you don’t go back and sign up.
Veterans and elderly Coloradans testified in support of the bill. Richard Smith, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, said the current remedies provided to re-activate your voter status — such as driving down to the county clerks office to fill out an re-activation form — are impossible for troops serving overseas and places a burden on the very people who are protecting our right to get a ballot.
“Troops deserve to exercise the very rights they are fighting to protect. … We owe it to the troops to guarantee the right [to vote] will not be abridged.”
Sam Palizzatto of the Colorado Alliance for Retired Americans also spoke in favor of the legislation. He said Colorado’s seniors are probably the most vulnerable to the current practice, since transportation issues and health problems often cause seniors to miss an election and prevent them from reactivating their status.
“We feel we are being denied the right to vote. Once we sign up, we should have the right to vote.”
For more information SB 12-109, and to read the bill yourself, click here.