California Looks At Colorado Voter Reform Model

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SACRAMENTO-

A joint committee of the legislature reviewed election reforms in Colorado to try to reverse the state's trend of declining voter participation.

A key strategy used in Colorado was to mail ballots to every registered voter whether or not they request it.

"You put a ballot in the mailbox of every registered voter and surprise, surprise most of them mail it back," said Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

Colorado has also turned to election centers instead of neighborhood polling places, which can be hard to get to for voters who commute to work or away from home for most of the day or evening.

"Their vote centers are located all over town and open anywhere from 8 to 14 days prior to election day," said Senator Ben Allen, chair of the committee.

Allen and Padilla both visited Colorado during elections held there over the past several months. They noted that the voting centers had the technology to determine where a voter was registered and print up an appropriate ballot.

Many of the strategies used in Colorado are used in California counties with some success.

A statewide approach to voter reform is a more difficult task because each county has its own set of requirements.

A key component is voter registration. There is a bill now in the works backed by Padilla that would allow people who get or renew their licenses at the DMV to register.

California voter turnout for the general election in November of 2014 was about 42 percent, a record for apathy.

Colorado's voter turnout since reforms were put in place far outpaced turnout in California.

The first reforms if lawmakers choose to go down that path wouldn't be available until January of 2018.

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