img: voting machines at a Denver voter service center
2018 is the first year that unaffiliated voters get to participate in the primary elections, but that’s not the only big change in election law here in Colorado. Caroline Fry of Colorado Common Cause says another significant development that went into effect this year is Automatic Voter Registration.
“As of April of this year, we have a new process now at the DMV, so that if I walk into the DMV and I am updating my driver’s license, or applying for a new driver’s license, the DMV can take all of the information that I have provided them and automatically send that information to the Secretary of State in order to register me to vote. So that opposed to a couple of years ago if I had gone in and they had asked me would you like to register to vote, they would have handed me an application and I would have had to write down all new information. It’s a more streamlined system that we now have in Colorado, so that it’s much easier for somebody at the DMV to take that information and automatically register the Coloradoan to vote.”
Fry says it has been a long process working with the Secretary of State and the DMV. “Specifically just to make sure that the scripts are correct. There was a lot of back and forth and tweaking in terms of getting the correct language nailed down, and also you have to train people working at the DMV to make sure everyone is on the same page that they are asking the same questions and making sure we are getting the results that we are looking for.”
Colorado is one of twelve states and the District of Columbia that now have automatic voter registration. 20 states have introduced automatic registration proposals in 2018.
The Washington Post recently called Colorado the safest place to cast a ballot, a nod to many efforts at a county clerk level and a state level to implement election integrity measures, however Caroline Fry says that there is always room for improvement.
“We’re going to continue on the path of making it so that every Coloradoan can, without barriers, register to vote and cast a ballot. So every year we proactively work on legislation that makes it so that folks have more options for voting, so that in addition to getting a ballot in the mail, that you also have a voter service and polling center to go to, to vote in person. Which is important especially for people experiencing homelessness that don’t have a permanent mailing address to be able to go in and vote in person.”
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