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Colorado using federal funds for Sunday voting, pay for judges, promote tribal voting

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(The Center Square) – Colorado will grant $1.5 million in federal funds to pay for Sunday voting, improve pay for election judges and promoting voting on tribal lands.

The amount is an addition to $3.5 million in federal funding announced in February.

Colorado’s voting centers aren’t required to be open on Sundays under state law. The grants will pay for the centers to be open on the Sunday before election day.

The latest round of Colorado funding will give county clerks an option to provide “Hero’s Pay” for election judges for the statewide primary in June and the general election. If county clerks decide to participate in the grant, the pay for election judges can be increased up to $3 per hour.

Colorado Democrat Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced up to $20,000 will be available to the Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute Tribes for programs to increase access to voting on Tribal lands.

“Running elections has become harder since 2020,” Griswold said in a statement announcing the second round of funding. “I’m proud of Colorado’s election judges, who work in bipartisan pairs to administer our gold-standard elections.”

The first round of funding was designated for adding or upgrading key card access to areas where election activities occur and purchase of additional security cameras and upgrades for 24-hour drop box surveillance. Grants also were available for improving handicap parking, installation of ramps and automatic doors and making other accessibility improvements. Funding was provided for language assistance at Voter Service and Polling Centers to assist voters with limited English proficiency.

The federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 was signed into law by President George W. Bush and led to the creation of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The commission, an independent and bipartisan organization, was formed to improve the administration of elections for federal offices through funding, guidance and policy development.

Federal funds provided to state and local election districts are for upgrading systems for casting votes, registering voters in statewide voter registration databases and providing provisional voting options. The grants also can be used to implement other improvements to the administration of federal elections, such as training for election officials and poll workers, improving accessibility at polling places and communicating how and where to vote.

The commissions latest annual report stated total expenditures by states was $381 million as 47 states spent all election improvement funds. Five states spent at least 80% of funds.

The commission’s 2022 Grant Expenditure Report highlighted Colorado’s “forward-thinking approach to election security” through its program allowing voters to monitor the status of their ballots.

“This service helps counter foreign disinformation intended to decrease the trust of Americans in the electoral process by reassuring Coloradans of the security of their individual cast ballots,” according to the report. “In its second statewide implementation in the 2022 elections, statewide ballot tracking continues to be popular with counties and voters. Over half of all Coloradans who cast a ballot in the 2022 General Election used the service.”

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