View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Sunday, October 03, 2004

Supporting the Backstop 

Colorado has, as this point, extremely liberal voter registration laws, permitting voters to register with only a signature to validate their name, address, and birthdate. The Secretary of State's office is attempting to reduce the likelhood of fraud in this fall's elections by requiring one of a number of forms of identification at the polls, even for so-called provisional balloting.

Common Cause of Colorado has filed suit to prevent the Secretary's rules from going into effect. The proposed changes were open to public comment at a meeting on Thursday, as well. It sounds as though that meeting was open season on Secretary Davidson, with a number of liberal pressure-groups turning out in force to protest the rules.

Fair Vote Colorado was particularly upset about the proposal to prevent those who have requested absentee ballots from voting provisionally, if they claim to have lost or not received their absentee ballots. (While the group claims to be non-partisan, Mark Cavanaugh, quoted at some length in the Rocky, is a budget analyst for the liberal Bighorn Center, seeking to eviscerate Colorado's TABOR.) Since the voter in question can receive a replacement absentee ballot, it's entirely unclear where their objection lies. The over-the-top rhetoric implying that hundreds, nay thousands, of Coloradoans will be denied their vote seems to be completely baseless.

(At the same time, Fair Vote Colorado is griping about an error in the new voter registration form which seems to call for more identification than necessary. The Secretary of State is advising county clerks of the correction, but Fair Vote is using it as a means to put Secretary Davidson's office on the defensive.)

Now, the Secretary is receiving support from both the Rocky and the Governor. The Rocky's editorial on the subject concludes:

We've long regarded provisional ballots with some suspicion. Our view is that they should be issued only to those who can make a case that the state has failed to properly register and track them.

They shouldn't be issued to those who have lost their absentee ballot, not returned it in time, or failed to re-register after moving to a new place.

It's not that hard to qualify to vote. If you're too stupid or careless to follow the few rules, you deserve to forfeit your ballot.

Which seems about right.

At the same time, the Governor's office has filed an amicus brief defending Mrs. Davidson's rule proposals.

"By inserting himself in this lawsuit, it appears that Bill Owens is merely throwing his political weight around," said Mark Eddy, spokesman for Fair Vote Colorado, a nonpartisan voter watchdog group.


"The notion of having to show a picture ID when you vote - which is no more than you have to do to cash a check at a local bank - doesn't seem to be an excessive burden," said Owens' deputy, Sean Duffy.


Activists, in turn, questioned why Owens felt the need to weigh in on the case, given that Colorado's executive branch already is represented in court by Davidson and her lawyer.

Perhaps Owens wrote the brief because his Democratic Attorney General is AWOL on the issue. The last time the executive was represented by Davidson and her lawyer, it was to defend itself against a lawsuit filed by that Attorney General, now running for Senate, over redistricting. Salazar seems to be developing a bad habit of using his office to benefit his party, either by commission or omission.

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