Post editorial provides insufficient evidence that timeline for implementation of election-day registration is too short

In an editorial yesterday, The Denver Post praised all the provisions of the election-modernization bill that just passed the State House, but the newspaper questioned the timeline on the implementation of election-day voter registration.

The Post Editorial stated that the “Internet technology specialist” in the Secretary of State’s office had an unspecified “problem” with the timeline proposed in the bill, which envisions offering election-day registration starting in the coordinated election this November and primary election in June.

The Post advised that “more time should be allowed for development and testing of same-day registration technology,” and the newspaper threw out the completely unsupported suggestion that “consideration” should be given to “disallowing voter registration very close to or on Election Day in the first years of using the technology.” [BigMedia emphasis]

It’s not clear what problem the Secretary of State’s internet expert has with the legislation’s timeline, or whether even he thinks it should operate for “years” before it would be trustworthy (somehow I doubt it), but, in any case, The Post should have offered more evidence to support its view. As it is, readers are left thinking The Post irresponsibly relied on just one opinion.  One expert, even a reputable one, shouldn’t carry the day, just because he happens to agree with the editorial writer.

And as it turns out, there’s more to the story.

For the next two elections, prior to the gubernatorial in 2014, the clerks will employ the exact same technology that they currently use to process “address changes” through election day as well as  “emergency registrations,” Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall told me.

In effect, clerks across Colorado have already processed thousands of same-day registrations on or before election day, using existing technology. Their system, which has been in use since 2008, was live (with backup systems in place) during the last election with all 64 counties participating, Hall said.

In the longer term, a “more seamless” interface is needed, because of the volume increase that’s expected in the bigger elections, but it’s not required for the next two elections, Hall said, adding that she’s confident, based on experience and technical advice, that the new interface will be ready for the 2014 election, which is about a year-and-a-half away. The congressional election would be a good test for the technology leading up to the 2016 presidential election, Hall said.

“It’s an ideal time to begin, as we’re building to the next presidential,” Hall said.

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