“New election rules protect overseas voters”

Colorado SOS Wayne Williams:

Earlier this month I adopted several amendments to the Secretary of State elections rules. In large part, these amendments are “cleanup” in nature; that is, they reword certain rules for grammar and clarity, they repeal some unnecessary or overly burdensome rules, and they reflect recent legislative changes in election law.

In addition to those more-technical amendments, I adopted a rule that clarifies the General Assembly’s mandate to permit electronic transmission of ballots to and from military and overseas citizens. Unfortunately, there are some who do not want members of the military, their family members, military contractors, missionaries, and other Coloradans abroad to have the same ability to vote that you and I have. Those of us in Colorado have the ability to study the issues and candidates and then turn in our ballots after reviewing what’s on them for several weeks. That way, we can make informed choices.

To permit these military and overseas voters the same rights, the General Assembly adopted a law in 2006 permitting electronic ballot transmission for this limited number of voters and then readopted it in 2011. Let me be clear: My rule puts some previously nonexistent guardrails on the legislature’s electronic transmission policy. The General Assembly adopted the law, not me. And I’m required to construe the law so that every eligible voter may vote — in fact, that’s a specific requirement of Colorado law.

Not surprisingly, a handful of elections activists used this most-recent rulemaking to rail against what they term “Internet voting.” But what does surprise me is seeing members of the General Assembly, past and present, make misinformed statements and greatly exaggerate the purpose and effect of the new rule. Despite the fact that my rule actually narrows the application of electronic transmission, the naysayers continue to falsely claim that I’m expanding Internet voting and that I’m ignoring the advice of experts in the field. I have two responses.

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