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Colorado governor notes ranked choice voting plan when signing new election law

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(The Center Square) – As the ink was drying on a bill creating new election rules, Colorado Democrat Gov. Jared Polis pledged to follow any ballot initiatives voters approved regarding ranked choice voting.

Senate Bill 24-210 modifies the “Uniform Election Code of 1992” on ballot initiatives and referendums along with the “Fair Campaign Practices Act.” The 42-page bill includes several requirements regarding ranked choice voting, including a report from the secretary of state to legislative committees on the method. The “impact of ranked choice voting methods as compared to elections conducted through other methods,” must be included in the report, according to the new law.

Polis referred to a movement underway to give Colorado voters the option to approve ranked choice voting in November. Signatures are currently being gathered for Initiative 310, which would eliminate partisan primaries in Colorado and establish ranked choice voting.

“Regarding provisions related to all candidate primaries and ranked choice voting that were included at the last moment and without proper stake holding in the final version of the bill, if voters approve a ballot measure pertaining to those issues this November, the language in the bill will not be the starting point for implementation and it will be essential to reconcile the bill with the measure and to take prompt and good faith actions to successfully implement the will of the voters, and we are committed to doing so,” Polis said in a statement announcing the signing of the bill.

Instead of choosing only one candidate from a list, the ranked choice method allows voters to rank the candidates on the ballot and there’s no party ballot. A candidate receiving a majority of first-place votes wins the election. If no candidate gets 50% or more, the candidate receiving the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated and those ballots are recounted to tabulate the second-ranked choice as the top choice. The process continues until a candidate receives a majority of votes.

“To this end, I plan to work to successfully implement any ballot initiative that passes on this topic, and will establish a formal process including the governor’s office, the secretary of state’s office, local elections officials, members of the legislature, voting rights organizations, and proponents that fulfills the will of the voters and takes into consideration the needs of election administrators with a goal of implementation as soon as practicable and certainly no later than the 2028 election cycle for full implementation statewide,” Polis said.

The new law lowers the age an individual may preregister to vote from 16 to 15. A person who doesn’t meet the 22-day residency requirement will now be allowed to register to vote and cast a provisional ballot only for president and vice president. The new law also allows any registered voter to file a complaint alleging violations and allows for civil action in the courts.

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