One bill would have required voters to present photo identification before they are allowed to vote. Another would have required voters to prove they are U.S. citizens.
The House State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee approved and sent to the House a measure that would require clerks to use electronic signature verification, despite concerns that signatures change as people age and complaints from groups representing disabled voters that it's almost impossible to verify some of their signatures.
El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink supported the photo and proof of citizenship measures, saying there is no way to determine if someone is violating election laws. "How do we know, we can't ask," he told the committee.
Jenny Flanagan, executive director of Colorado Common Cause, a public policy lobbying organization, countered saying there is no proof that people are trying to vote illegally in Colorado.
"There's no proof that it's happening because it's not happening," she told the committee.
Balink cited statewide media reports of illegal immigrants getting caught trying to vote, and one incident in Weld County where someone tried to use their voter registration card to register for U.S. citizenship. He said people must have U.S. citizenship before they can register to vote.
Rep. Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) said people should be required to provide proof of U.S. citizenship to vote because it's the law, but lawmakers said proof of citizenship is not required under federal law.
Kent Summers (R-Lakewood) said his bill to require photo identification was needed because current law allows people to register to vote if they can provide a utility bill with their name and address.
Cathryn Hazouri, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, said many potential voters, including the elderly and disabled, can't get photo identification because it requires a birth certificate that may not exist because of flood or fire.
Hazouri said she lost her wallet once and it took time to replace it because county clerks wanted a photo ID to replace it.
"You will be disenfranchising a significant number of people," she told lawmakers.
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