By Ken Reed
Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star Game out of Georgia and to Colorado will guarantee that state voting laws will be a big story in the days surrounding the game. Given that reality, Colorado’s voting system will undoubtedly get a lot of attention, especially as the game gets closer. That is good news, whatever your political stripe, and whether or not you agree with MLB’s decision to move the game.
Colorado’s voting system is the nation’s gold standard and if having the All-Star Game in Colorado leads to more states adopting Colorado’s voting laws and processes it will be a win for the country and democracy.
Colorado has the most efficient, safe, and yes, secure voting system in the country. In Colorado, numerous checks and balances are built into the process. Bipartisan teams transport, verify, open, sort, count and store Colorado’s ballots. Computers and Republican and Democratic election judges check each vote and signature against state registries before they are tabulated. If the computers and judges (who are specially trained for the task) agree there isn’t a signature match, the votes are kicked out. Moreover, the state does routine risk-limiting audits during an election, making sure paper ballots match the electronic record 100 percent.
The conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation has recorded only 14 cases of election-related offenses in Colorado since 2005. In 2018, 0.00027% of 2,566,784 ballots cast in Colorado were referred by bipartisan teams to district attorneys for further investigation, according to Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold. Wayne Williams, a Republican and former Secretary of State in Colorado who led the start of mail-in voting in Colorado back in 2013, says one of the most important security features of Colorado’s election system is the voter registry and its diligent upkeep.
“We have many, many, many different signatures from you as a voter to compare your signature against,” said Jocelyn Bucaro, Denver’s director of elections from August 2019 to January 2021. Signatures of voters are collected in a variety of ways, including drivers licenses, as people register to vote, as people vote in previous elections, etc. The Secretary of State’s office checks with the post office, Colorado Department of Health and Environment and Department of Corrections monthly (more often as elections near) to make sure people haven’t died, moved out of the state, or been imprisoned. If any of those things occur, the person will be removed from the registry and won’t receive a ballot.
Coloradans can mail their ballots in or drop them in one of the hundreds of ballot boxes across the state. Voters can then go online and track where their ballot is throughout the counting process. Bipartisan teams collect votes from the heavy, metallic, bolted-down drop boxes daily. The ballot boxes are required to have 24-hour video surveillance with adequate lighting. Once ballots are removed from the ballot boxes, the containers that hold the ballots are locked and labeled by location.
Colorado’s vote tabulation system is also very safe. It is nearly impossible for anyone outside the process to tamper with a single ballot. The state’s voting system computers aren’t connected to the internet. Ballot rooms have video surveillance and key card access. As a final precaution, ballots and envelopes are stored and secured for 25 months following an election.
“You would be blown away at the security requirements,” says Kim Bonner, Routt County, Colorado’s clerk & recorder.
Coloradans still have the option of voting in person, if they prefer, which 1%-4% of voters —depending on the election — still do.
“It’s safe, it’s secure, it’s transparent, it has been tested, it’s tried, it’s true and it’s pandemic proof,” says Denver County Clerk & Recorder Paul Lopez.
Besides being safe and secure, Colorado’s voting system is also very convenient. Long, time-consuming lines to vote don’t exist in the state. Ballots are sent to voters 25 days before Election Day, which gives voters plenty of time to study candidates and research ballot measures.
“It’s so much more convenient,” said Bill Skinner of Denver. “Sitting down. Doing it at home where you don’t have to worry about distractions.”
Jill Thompson, a working mother in Denver, also prefers the ease of voting in Colorado. She lamented the hours she wasted in line to vote at a polling center when she lived in Houston, Texas.
Elections are the foundation of democracy. A person’s vote is his/her voice. As such, the goal should be to do all we can to make voting as safe, secure and convenient as possible. Colorado’s voting system does that better than any other state’s. So, along with the moon-shot-home runs that will occur during this year’s Home Run Derby at Denver’s mile high altitude, Colorado’s model should be highlighted during All-Star Game week in Colorado.
And here’s hoping that after Americans across the country get a closer look at how Coloradans vote and process their elections, every other state in the country will implement a similar system.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
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