Governor signs two bills backed by Secretary of State Williams

Gov. John Hickenlooper signs into law two-elections related measures as Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, to the governor’s right, SOS staffers, lobbyists, lawmakers and election activists look on. (SOS photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Deputy Secretary Suzanne Staiert looked on this week as Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law two bills  that will help to make Colorado’s elections even more accurate, accessible and transparent.

One measure involved updating and changing current election law, while the other concerns voter registration and the criminal justice system.

Williams often reminds Coloradans that when he took office in 2015 he was told that because the Senate was controlled by Republicans and the House by Democrats he would have a hard time getting anything through the split legislature. Instead, a majority of the legislation his office has worked on or testified on behalf of has passed.

“I think we continue to dispel the myth,” the secretary said, “that election issues have to be partisan and, yes, you can get things done.”

Here’s a look at the two bills signed Tuesday:

Gov. John Hickenlooper and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams shake hands after bill signings on Wednesday as Sen. Kevin Lundberg and attorney Martha Tierney look on. (SOS photo)

Senate Bill 223, the elections clean-up bill:

  • Improves the accuracy of the state’s voter registration database by allowing for automatic updates to an elector’s registration address when they renew their driver’s license at a DMV.
  • Saves money for Colorado’s county clerks by making the ballot secrecy sleeve optional under certain conditions.
  • Updates several timelines associated with canvassing, certifying the abstract of the vote, and requesting recounts; all in order to accommodate the new requirement to perform the state’s risk-limiting audits, and
  • Allows more time for the training of election judges and allows county clerks to appoint election judges who reside in another county, if necessary.

The Secretary of State’s office worked with the sponsors, Sens. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, and Stephen Fenberg, D-Boulder, and Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette,  and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, as well as an array of stakeholders, including Colorado’s county clerks, Colorado Common Cause and America Votes. The House and the Senate unanimously passed the measure.

Rep. Hugh McKean and lobbyist Carolyn Siegel at the bill signing ceremony. (Photo by Susan Raplee)

Senate Bill 150 allows parolees who are released from incarceration to preregister to vote, improving the accuracy of the voter registration system. The individual’s registration is activated upon successful completion of parole, as reported by the Department of Corrections.  It also requires the division of adult parole to inform parolees on the process for preregistration.

The Secretary of State’s office worked with the sponsors, Sens. Fenberg and Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, and Reps. Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, and Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, as well as the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.

Here are the people in the main photo,  from left to right: Tim Griesmer and Ben Schler from the Secretary of State’s office;  Elizabeth Steele and Amanda Gonzalez from Common Cause; Sen. Fenberg; Gov. Hickenlooper; Sen. Lundberg (behind the governor); Secretary Williams;  Martha Tierney, attorney for the Colorado Democratic Party;  and Deputy Staiert.