County Commissioner Wayne Williams has joined the chorus of Republicans complaining about an election reform measure being pushed by House Speaker Terrance Carroll and other Democrats.
Williams does have a dog in this fight, sort of. Having served two, four-year terms on the county commission, he is now campaigning hard to become El Paso County’s next clerk and recorder.
If elected, Williams would be the one charged with overseeing elections and making sure they comply with the state laws. (There are other contenders for the slot, including outgoing treasurer Sandra Damron, Public Trustee Tom Mowle, and scientist Charles Corry.)
Both Williams and term-limited clerk Bob Balink question the timing of the bill, portraying it as a desperate measure by Democratic politicians who will find themselves on the street following the November election.
At the State Capitol on Thursday, rumors were flying that the measure was dead, but Speaker Carroll said otherwise in a press release. “I have worked with the minority leader Mike May to identify a bipartisan group of legislators to guide this legislation.”
Carroll added that the measure has two goals: to promote fraud-free elections and ensure that counties can run efficient elections. “I want to be clear that I am leaving all options open, including running legislation this year.”
In an email to Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, Balink blasted the bill. “It is ABSOLUTELY NOT NECESSARY for this bill to be rushed through in the waning days of the 2010 session.” (The emphasis is Balink’s.)
“This is not an emergency,” Williams added.” This is a power grap by a desperate group of people.”
Under the draft legislation, voters could register on Election Day instead of a month in advance as is now required by state law; county clerks would send out mail-in ballots to every voter, and third parties, such as labor unions, could pick up and turn in the ballots.
Williams said the measure would make the “entire system more vulnerable to attack.”