Vail Daily column: Voting gets easier with new legislation
Gov. Hickenlooper has signed legislation that will modernize and harmonize voter registration and elections to better reflect how they are being conducted today.
Specifically, the changes will help ensure safe and secure elections, significantly reduce Eagle County’s election costs and eliminate voter confusion about election formats between even- and odd-year elections.
To modernize voter registration and voter list maintenance, counties will be able to use a “live” pollbook in the statewide voter registration system. For the first time, every service center and polling location will be able to track each voter. This will give our state unprecedented security in ballot issuance as well as voted ballot acceptance, review and tabulation.
There will also be changes to voter registration deadlines, reducing the residency requirement from 29 days to 22 days. People will be able to register by mail or through an approved agency such as driver’s license offices or town offices no later than 22 days before the election. They will also be able to register in person at any of our Eagle County Clerk & Recorder offices up to and including Election Day. The eligibility requirements currently in place will still apply.
Through the National Change of Address database generated through Postal Service address change requests, we will have the improved ability to update registration records and reduce undeliverable mailings to those who have moved since previous elections. Having the correct address on file will also ensure that people will vote on issues and candidates for the appropriate districts based upon where they live.
Additional changes will include merging the “Active” and “Inactive Failed to Vote” categories for registration. In the future, voters who miss an election will not automatically be made inactive and potentially miss out on important mailings, including mail ballots.
During the 2012 presidential election, 72 percent of Eagle County’s voters requested their ballot by mail. The number of people choosing these options has continued to increase every year and represents the great majority of voters.
With the new legislation, all voters will be mailed a ballot for every election, including November odd-year elections, even-year June primaries and even-year November general elections. They will then have the option of returning their voted ballots by mailing them, delivering them in person to any of our three offices or dropping them in secure newly installed 24-hour ballot boxes in Eagle and El Jebel.
Voters will still be able to vote in person, use accessible voting equipment, register or update their registration, or obtain replacement ballots a minimum of 15 days before the November general elections in our Avon, Eagle or El Jebel offices. Eagle County Clerk & Recorder Offices will be open two full Saturdays during that period, as well as all day the Monday before the election and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day.
Cost savings will be achieved through the use of address change databases: National Change of Address and Department of Corrections and Vital Records. Having the most current and accurate voter lists will result in fewer required mailings. Additionally, there will be sizable savings in renting, installing, securing and staffing polling locations. Finally, there will be significant savings in future equipment purchases for federally mandated electronic equipment.
We look forward to these innovations in election administration for our citizens, and as always, assisting everyone who wishes to vote to be able to do so in an efficient and secure manner. Town Hall meetings to present the impacts and answer questions will be scheduled throughout the county in June. We are also available to provide additional details or answer anyone’s questions or concerns by phone or email. Feel free to contact us at 970-328-8715 or at email@example.com.
Teak Simonton is the Eagle County clerk and recorder.