For Immediate Release
As Many As Tens of Thousands of Eligible Voter Registration at Risk
Voting rights experts urge Colorado officials to modify policy and protect all CO voters' rights
"This indefensible policy unfairly punishes a significant portion of the Colorado electorate over an unnecessary technicality," said Jenny Flanagan at Colorado Common Cause. "Coloradans did their part by filling out voter registration forms with all the information necessary to confirm their identities and in compliance with training manuals put out by the SOS" office. Now, election officials need to do their part to ensure these people's votes count on election"
In accordance with the Help America Vote Act of 2002 ("HAVA"), the Colorado voter registration form asks voters to provide a state-issued identifying number-either a Driver's License or Department of Revenue identification number. Eligible Coloradoans who do not have either number are asked to provide the last four digits of their Social Security Number. The problem arises when a voter provides her Social Security digits but does not check a box to affirmatively indicate that she does not have the requested state-issued numbers. According to voting rights experts, these applications include all the necessary information for establishing eligibility and should therefore be counted.
Treating applications without checkmarks as incomplete is inconsistent with both the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and Section 1971 of the Voting Rights Act. Like the butterfly ballot that led to the 2000 election debacle in Florida, Coloradans will be treated unfairly because of the poor design and guidance from the state. In fact, some registration applications don't clearly indicate that failing to check the box will render the application incomplete. Moreover, the system for rectifying these mistakes proposed by the state is rife with potential for administrative failure leading to more eligible votes lost.
As many as ten thousand applications have been affected by this policy to date. If it is kept in place, that number will likely increase dramatically between now and November 4th, threatening to disenfranchise thousands more Colorado voters and the integrity of our electoral system.