In an effort to expand voting access, the Colorado Secretary of State’s (SOS) office has announced that it will provide funding for counties to open Voter Service and Polling Centers (VSPCs) on November 1, the Sunday before Election Day.
The announcement came Thursday in a press release from the SOS office, stating that the SOS office will use money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to expand voter access by allowing polling centers to open the extra day.
The CARES Act allocated $400 million for the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), and of that, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold requested almost $7 million for expenditures from increasing voting access as a result of the pandemic.
“As Secretary of State, I have worked to increase voting access for Coloradans,” said Griswold in the press release. “Early voting options are key to accessible elections, and for a presidential election during a pandemic, it’s important to provide Coloradans with many options to be able to cast their ballot and make their voice heard.”
So far, Adams County is the only county to have taken advantage of this new opportunity. Betsy Hart, a Colorado Secretary of State spokesperson, told the Colorado Times Recorder that as of yesterday, she did not know of any other counties in Colorado considering opening VSPCs November 1.
Chair of the Adams County Regional Economic Partnership Tom Stone spoke in strong support of the VSPC access expansion.
“Citizens who capitalize on their right to vote and make their voice heard will determine the 2020 election outcome and the course of issues crucial to the future of our state and local Adams County communities,” Stone said in the press release. “We support Adams County opening a Voter Service and Polling Center on the Sunday before Election Day and applaud the increased visibility and access it will provide voters.”
Rosemary Lytle, State President of the NAACP Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming region, is optimistic that the option for counties to expand voting access November 1 will encourage voter turnout.
“The NAACP applauds Adams County and the Secretary of State for moving toward opening a VSPC on Sundays,” said Lytle in the SOS press release. “Early and flexible voting is a critical tool for breaking down barriers to the ballot box and improving civic engagement. When people — especially in a pandemic — can decide when and where is best for them to vote, it increases voter participation, especially in traditionally disenfranchised communities. A demanding job or inflexible hours shouldn’t be a barrier. And, no one should have to choose between voting and keeping their job.”
According to the Brookings Institution, the 2020 election could see some of the highest voter turn out and civic engagement in more than a century. The increased differing views between the two major parties and an increased interest in politics could inspire voters to cast as many as 145 million ballots, according to Michael McDonald, Director of the U.S. Elections Project.
Republican voters tend to vote more in-person, while Democrats tend to vote via mail when possible.
Early polling centers and drop boxes will open beginning October 19 per Colorado state law.
The polling center in Adams County is at Moorhead Recreation Center, 2390 Havana St, in Aurora. It will be open 10 am to 2 pm the Sunday before Election Day, in addition to normal operating hours.