DENVER -- House Democrats voted down a GOP measure aimed at getting non-citizens off Colorado's voter rolls on grounds that it isn't needed and would needlessly make voting more arduous for thousands of legal residents.
The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee voted down House Bill 1050, sponsored by Rep. Lori Saine, R-Dacono, by a vote of 3-7.
The proposal would have required the Secretary of State to coordinate the computerized statewide voter registration list with citizenship records maintained by federal and state agencies and to automatically cancel any ineligible voters electronically following a hearing.
"This is about accountability and integrity," Saine said during the hearing. "It is also about integrity of course. We do have a constitutional duty to guard the elective franchise."
Saine argued that many ineligible voters aren't aware that they can't legally vote under the law, and the Assistant Secretary of State backed that argument up.
Two new United States citizens also testified about receiving letters from the Secretary of State questioning their legal voter status. One of them, Veronica Figoli-Fleischer, told the panel that the letter made her feel "like a second-class citizen."
"It felt like I was being kicked in the stomach," she told the committee.
Last year, Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler said there could be as many as 11,000 non-citizens on the rolls and that as many as 4,000 of those non-citizens had voted. After Gessler's office conducted its own investigation, those estimates were proven to be extremely off base.
"Ultimately, 63 registered voters confirmed that they are not registered voters and asked they we taken them off the registration database," Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert told the committee Wednesday.
"In most cases, non-citizen registration was a result of clerical error on the part of the county clerk," she continued, "or the result of a voter being unaware that they are ineligible to vote."
Those numbers gave additional cover to Democrats voting against a bill they believed in attempting to solve a non-existent problem, had the potential to create a real one.
"There is no more important right in our society than the right to vote," said Rep. Angela Williams, D-Denver, toward the hearing's end. "The people of Colorado deserve a system that protects and enhances every voters' ability to register to vote and to participate in democracy."