DENVER — Last November, Lori Saine became the first Dacono councilwoman elected to the Statehouse.
And now, as the General Assembly begins its legislative session, Saine is sponsoring her first bill: A measure to remove non-citizens from state voter rolls.
Saine is working together with co-sponsor Chris Holbert, a fellow Republican from Parker, to try to bring the bill to the House floor.
The bill, titled “SOS Cancellation Of Noncitizen Voter Registration Records,” seeks to compel Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler to “electronically cancel the voter registration record of a person on the computerized statewide voter registration list who is not a United States citizen.”
To locate the non-citizens on the voter roll, the bill would require the Secretary of State to coordinate the computerized statewide voter registration list with citizenship records maintained by federal and state agencies.
“Upon learning that a particular person registered to vote is not a United States citizen, the secretary of state, after conducting an administrative hearing, is directed to electronically cancel that person’s voter registration record,” the bill reads.
The bill will face an uphill battle at the state Capitol, where Democrats control both chambers of the General Assembly, and with Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, needing to sign off on bills before they become law.
Saine said that Hickenlooper has noted that most non-citizens are aware that registering to vote can have a negative effect on the prospects for citizenship.
“I would agree with that. We don’t want to jeopardize the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, but many aren’t aware of this effect until the process begins. The secretary of state’s office will tell you that they receive many letters from non-citizens who realize they are on the voter roll and they’re trying to fix it,” Saine said. “They write in saying they’re sorry for the mistake, and they’re trying to correct it by writing to the secretary of state. A lot of times this can happen when they’re at the department of motor vehicles, trying to get a license, and even if they check the box for non-citizen, they can still end up on the voter roll.”
Saine said state statutes already dictate that the secretary of state shall remove possible felons or deceased citizens from the voter roll
“But there’s nothing in statute that the secretary of state shall do the same for non-citizens. Just like the possible deceased or possible felons, the secretary of state’s office would make sure there’s due process. A possible non-citizen would be contacted and there would be a hearing to make sure,” Saine said. “It’s all about due process. The secretary of state wouldn’t just delete somebody because they turn up on a Homeland Security list.”
Saine said she chose this issue for her first bill for several reasons.
“The integrity of an election is a non-partisan issue,” Saine said. “The General Assembly is constitutionally obligated to pass legislation to protect the integrity of an election. If you’re a Democrat, Republican, Green Party or Libertarian, it’s still the same. Everyone wants to know that their vote counts.”
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