25 Jan TODAY: FENBERG TO PRESENT BILL MEASURING VOTER WAIT TIMES IN COMMITTEE
Denver, Co — Today, State Senator Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, will present a bill in committee to establish a standardized process for measuring voter wait times in Colorado’s elections.
“Voter wait times are a big problem — but we don’t know how big of one because they either aren’t measured in a consistent manner, or not even measured at all in some cases,” said Senator Fenberg.
“This past election, our men and women in uniform at Fort Carson reportedly waited in line for up to three hours to cast their votes. That’s just not right.”
Fenberg also noted a more than 2-hour wait at CU-Boulder, and a 2.5-hour wait at some Adams County polling centers this past Election Day.
The Presidential Commission on Election Administration established 30-minutes to be the maximum time a voter should have to wait in line to vote. The Commission recommended that county clerks measure and track wait times in order to make improvements over time. They have worked with MIT to develop simple and cost-effective tools to help election administrators measure wait times.
Through Senate Bill 17-037, Senator Fenberg seeks to improve the voting process across the state by:
- requiring county clerks who represent 25,000 active voters or more to measure wait times at polling centers; and
- giving county clerks discretion on how to measure wait times by stating they may do so “in the most administratively practicable and cost efficient manner” for their county.
“One can’t improve what one doesn’t measure,” said Fenberg. “If we want to improve access to our democracy, and ensure everyone is able to participate without barriers, we need to make data-driven decisions.”
By measuring how long a voter has to wait before voting, county clerks can better respond to voter needs and more effectively distribute resources between and within Voter Service and Polling Centers. Arapahoe County already measures wait times, as do a few other counties, but on more of an ad-hoc basis. Arapahoe County’s system is automated to update the county’s public website with average wait times per voter center.
“If we can measure wait times at the DMV, a deli counter, and amusement parks, then we should be able to do it for the cornerstone of our democracy,” said Fenberg.
Senator Fenberg’s bill will be heard this afternoon in the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee at 1:30PM. The bill is supported by GOP Chairman Steve House, Common Cause, Disability Law Colorado, and the Denver Clerk & Recorder Debra Johnson.