DENVER (AP) — In a bitter fight, Colorado Democrats recently muscled through the Statehouse a massive elections reform bill that allows voters to register up until Election Day and still cast their ballots.
It’s the latest — and most substantial — development in a nationwide Democratic Party effort to strike back at two years of Republican success in passing measures to require identification at polling places and purge rolls of suspect voters.
Democratic-controlled states like California, Connecticut and Maryland also all have sought to make it easier to cast a ballot as late as possible. They recently passed versions of same-day voter registration measures, which traditionally help younger and poorer voters — the sort who lean Democratic.
Undaunted, the GOP is aggressively fighting the efforts.
Maine Republicans tried to roll back same-day registration in 2011 but were unsuccessful. And Montana Republicans hope to rescind their state’s same-day registration through a ballot referendum next year.
In the decades-old battle between Republicans and Democrats over voting rights, same-day voter registration long had been a relatively bipartisan matter, a staple in places like Idaho, New Hampshire and Wyoming. But it has become a divisive issue in recent years, as the country has grown more polarized and as both major political parties seek to change voting laws in ways that will be beneficial to them.
“There’s been more partisanship over the last half-decade as the voting wars heated up and as groups spent more energy on process and the nuts and bolts of how elections are run,” says Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. “Colorado is ground zero right now for these battles.”