New bill would compel secretary of state to check voter rolls for non-citizens

The Secretary of State will periodically check voter banks for non-citizens if Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, gets his way in the House. Partnering with Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, to introduce the bill, HB 1149 would accomplish similar goals as Harvey’s recently defeated bill that would have required proof of citizenship before registering to vote.  The bill includes considerable modifications that could serve to defuse some traditional arguments against the this type of legislation.

Harvey’s senate bill, which would have forced individuals to provide proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate before registering to vote, died at the hands of the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee Jan. 26 . The committee appeared compelled by testimony that numerous low-income and elderly individuals would be unable to purchase identification in time to vote.

However, during testimony, Secretary of State Scott Gessler said that he had done an analysis and found that numerous individuals that he said were probably ineligible to vote due to immigration status were on the voter rolls.

“We compared the DMV motor vehicle database to the voter rolls,” Gessler said during the hearing. “We found that there were about 1,600 who were temporary residents in Colorado when they got their driver’s licenses, but they are also on the voter rolls. There are about 13,000 who are resident aliens and about 1,300, almost 1,400 who are on the INS arrival/departure records.”

Harvey’s new bill appears to be a synthesis that is designed to mitigate concerns of voter rights advocates while working to weed out illegally registered voters. The bill calls for the Secretary of State to periodically check the names on voter registries against lists held by government agencies including the Department of Revenue, jury recusal lists and federal databases to determine citizenship status.

If those names are determined to be individuals likely ineligible to vote, the state will ask for verification. If verification is too costly to obtain, the state will pay for Colorado residents to receive birth certificates from either Colorado or their birth state.

It is unclear how much money the state would be forced to pay for supplying birth certificates, as a fiscal note has not yet been attached.

The bill will now go to the House State, Veterans, and Foreign Affairs Committee where it is likely to receive a considerably warmer reception than Harvey’s bill did in the Senate.

Harvey is currently campaigning to replace Dick Wadhams as chair of the Colorado Republican Party.

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Joseph Boven

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