Todd: Interpreting the meaning of a bill
A loyal Log Hill reader pointed out that I added extra digits to my unemployment numbers last week for Colorado. Instead of stating the total unemployed in Colorado is slightly over two million, I should have said slightly over 200,000. Likewise, the 2007 figure was slightly under 100,000, not one million.
My late-night blurry eyed error doesn’t change the fact that this is, quite possibly, the slowest recovery in U.S. history. As John Taylor, Professor of Economics at Stanford University points out, the growth rate headed out of the recession in the 1980s was six percent, compared to our current two percent rate.
Reading a bill introduced to the Colorado House is akin to watching snow melt in January, so it’s easy to see how interpretations can vary. A reader sent a note that subsequently was found to have originated from the Colorado Republican Committee website, cologop.org. The statement sent to the Plaindealer and a county official said:
“GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo.— Last night, Democrats introduced sweeping legislation that will completely change the way we vote in Colorado. House Bill 1303 will take away the right to vote in a traditional neighborhood polling place on Election Day, and will allow same day registration without adequate safeguards to ensure the integrity of our elections.”
Take away the right to vote in traditional neighborhood polling places? In looking at HB 1303, it is evident that interpretation took a right turn in this case.
The essence of the bill is to expand the traditional neighborhood polling place into not only a place to fill the ballot box but also a place where residents can register to vote on voting day.
The bill does not "take away the right to vote in a traditional neighborhood polling place," as the GOP site states. It just renames and expands the purpose of the traditional polling place. In fact, because of the expanded duties of the polling place, a county may decide it needs additional polling places in order to handle expected increased volume, thus increasing access.
It also cuts the state requirement for residency prior to being able to vote on election day from 30 days to 22 days.
Same-day registration would be allowed at the new "voter service and polling centers," but a voter can't just walk in from Kansas, for instance, that day and register. Voters still must be Colorado residents for 22 days. As for adequate safeguards, all registrations must be verified with the state at the moment of registration...on the spot. So, one intent is not to let someone vote in Hinsdale County in the morning, drive over Engineer Pass and register and vote in Ouray County in the afternoon.
So, really, the difference is eight days for residency and no more "oops, I forgot to register to vote" going on.
Of course, if you read that paragraph you would assume some lawmakers are trying to shut down neighborhood polling places and compromise the integrity of our elections. Colorado Republican Committee Chairman Ryan Call said, “Democrats met behind closed doors with liberal interest groups, unions and their attorneys to come up with a plan that will help their special interests at the expense of the citizens of our state.”
He never said what the negative result would be to allowing more Coloradans to vote. But he did say it will be “sweeping,” whatever that means. It’s all in the interpretation, we suppose.
We're running a trade with the Silverton Standard and the Miner, drumming up subscriptions for each other. You'll see their ad in our pages over the next month. The Standard is the newspaper of record for San Juan County and Silverton. Folks on either side of Red Mountain Pass are probably just itching to know what their neighbors are up to. And, for almost next to nothing, you can be in the know all year long. It's an award-winning piece, year after year, and it might just make for a tough decision when deciding which of our papers to use as fire starter first.
Alan Todd is the publisher of the Ouray County Plaindealer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 970-325-2838.