Every year, Boulder County Elections staff closely participates in the Colorado legislative process. In the months leading up to the legislative session (which takes place typically every January to May), our office provides ideas and recommendations to improve our election processes to our state legislators either directly and/or in combination with our fellow clerks through the statewide Colorado County Clerks Association (CCCA). Throughout the session, our office tracks legislation and provides feedback, recommended changes, and at times, testimony for and against bills when relevant and impactful. Boulder County Elections evaluates legislative changes and impacts through a lens of improving the voting experience and strengthening the election process or our collective statewide election security posture. Here is a highlight of some of the bills we tracked and participated in this 2023 legislative cycle.
2023 Boulder County Elections Legislative Highlights
|Virtual Marriage Or Civil Union License Procedures HB23-1278|
|Status: Signed into law June 2, 2023|
|Summary of Legislation: This bill permanently extends the pilot program which granted counties the ability to issue marriage licenses remotely. Previously, couples applying for a marriage license were required to appear in person to satisfy certain legal requirements.|
|Action taken: Identified the need in 2020 to modernize the marriage application process due to the COVID-19 pandemic and advocated for the initial bill. We were the primary advocates for this bill and supported it alongside the Colorado County Clerks Association.
Why: To reduce the spread of COVID in early 2020, our office identified that an alternative method for obtaining marriage licenses was necessary because state law required that couples appear in person to obtain a marriage license. We worked on legislation to create a pilot program for two years that allowed couples to satisfy the legal requirements over remote video technology. After a successful two-year pilot of issuing over 5,400 remotely, our office worked on legislation with the Colorado County Clerks Association to turn the pilot program into a permanent option for counties. The option to issue marriage licenses remotely has positively impacted applicants who have mobility challenges, time constraints, and medical conditions. This bill requires all staff who are issuing marriage licenses remotely to complete a human trafficking training course annually.
|Modifications To Laws Regarding Elections SB 23-276|
|Status: Signed into law June 6, 2023|
|Summary of Legislation: Beginning 2024, this bill requires that the Secretary of State pay 45 percent of the costs that a county incurs in conducting any election with state certified ballot content. Currently, counties are reimbursed either .80 or .90 per voter for reimbursable election costs. Technical changes to elections were also included in the bill – including allowing for digital voter identification, changes to the requirements of Vote Centers and drop boxes, changes to the number and conduct of election judges, and aligns provisions of statute with current practice and federal law.|
|Action taken: Supported the bill alongside the Colorado County Clerks Association
Why: The current reimbursement rate to counties to help conduct elections had remained unchanged for over a decade and fell significantly short of covering the actual costs incurred to conduct elections. Modernizing the funding structure to reflect actual costs puts our counties and our state on a more equitable path for funding elections. The technical updates included in the bill better support what counties need to implement efficient elections.