The Colorado Voting Experience: A Model That Encourages Full Participation

Common Cause and the National Vote At Home Institute recommend that all states adopt reforms including same-day voter registration and early voting so that voters have sufficient and secure options to cast a ballot on or before Election Day.

Imagine the perfect voting experience.

You drop by the polling place on the way to work or school. The line is moving quickly, so it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to get to the check-in desk. Once there, your registration is rapidly verified, and you’re handed a ballot by a friendly face. No one hassles you; no one unfairly questions your eligibility. You step aside to a private booth, fill out the form, and have it easily scanned. You get a receipt — and the cherished “I voted” sticker. The whole transaction takes about five or 10 minutes.

Upon leaving the site, you not only experience that frisson that reminds you you’re a part of something bigger — civic pride — but also leave there in time to drop off the kids at school and make it to work on time. Or maybe you skip the drive altogether and mail in your completed ballot after having received it in the mail. Or you thought about your choices for months but voted and returned your ballot in a matter of minutes on Election Day. In many ways, it’s a day like any other: you carry on with your duties as you otherwise would. In another way, though, it’s a special and unique experience; you participated in an act that for many was hard-fought and hard won, that is a guaranteed right to you as a citizen, and that helps direct the course of the nation. You voted. And, because of that, you got to be one of the country’s critical decision-makers.

It may not yet be the norm, but in Colorado, and in states with more in-person and at-home voting options that resemble the above processes, a comprehensive elections model ensures an experience that benefits both voter and administrator alike. And it boosts turnout.