Colorado Election Reforms Led to Record Turnout, Other States Should Follow Suit

WASHINGTON D.C. — States should follow the lead of Colorado and adopt comprehensive election systems with more in-person and vote-at-home options to boost voter engagement and turnout, according to a new report from two national, nonpartisan voting access organizations.

Common Cause and the National Vote At Home Institute recommend that all states, at a minimum, adopt same-day voter registration and early voting options so that voters have sufficient and secure ways to cast a ballot on or before Election Day. Colorado, in addition to implementing these basic reforms, has adopted additional measures that benefit all voters, including:

  • Automatic mailed ballots for all registered voters
  • Secure ballot drop boxes available 24/7 in convenient locations and at vote centers
  • In-person voting at strategically located vote centers in each county during an early voting period on Election Day
  • Proactive address updates with the use of the National Change of Address database run by the U.S. Postal Service
  • Automatic voter registration through Department of Motor Vehicles offices

The Colorado reforms were backed and implemented by a unique, bipartisan coalition of election officials, labor organizations, voting rights advocates and accessibility advocates at a time when other states created more barriers to the process. Colorado now is among the states in our nation with the highest voter turnout.

The National Vote at Home Institute conducted research into the 2018 primaries and found that vote-at-home states – states with all or most votes cast from mailed out ballots – had a median 15 percent higher turnout rate than the remaining polling place states. Data from the U.S. Elections Project from the 2018 midterms showed that the three vote-at-home states – Colorado, Oregon and Washington – had an average of more than 60 percent of their voting-eligible population case ballots versus under 50 percent for the remaining states.

“If the United States wants to be a beacon of democracy, it must do all it can to ensure full voter participation,” said Elena Nunez, director of state operations and ballot measures at Common Cause. “Colorado is leading the way with more in-person and vote-at-home options and other states should follow suit. Full voter participation should be the norm, not the exception.”

Amber McReynolds, executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute, commented, “As someone who was on the front lines of formulating this legislation and implementing this model, this report documents all the elements that came together to create a system that is voter centric.”  She continued, “As you will see, it takes a lot more than just mailing out ballots to produce an election system that is secure, improves the voting experience for all voters, and streamlines the administrative processes for election officials.”

Read the report, The Colorado Voting Experience: A Model that Encourages Full Participation