Voter registration drives have descended on Denver in the last few months. You can now find eager young volunteers tempting you with voter applications at Whole Foods, at the corner of Colfax and Broadway, even in line for ice cream at Liks.
These foot soldiers for democracy help you fill out the proper forms and then hand you an official-looking receipt. Within twenty days, you’re supposed to receive an "official information card" from the county Clerk and Recorder’s office confirming that you are, indeed, registered to vote.
Alas, my card never arrived. And when I called the Denver Clerk and Recorder’s office, I got a strange explanation: My registration had never been processed, the lady said... but it might not have been the registration drive’s fault.
Apparently, the clerk’s office was not allowed to process new registrations for thirty days before or after the August 12 primary. Since I filled out my form at the end of July, I was out of luck. They’re just now wading through those applications, and they might not have come across mine yet.
According to Alton Dillard, PR specialist for the clerk’s office, this sixty-day "black-out period" around the primary was required by state law. The Secretary of State doesn’t want anyone messing with voting records while primary votes are still being counted.
Which makes sense, except that the timing couldn’t be worse. The blackout arrived smack in the middle of the DNC -- when tons of new people presumably decided to register. And it could cause a backlog right before a huge, historic November election.
New voters must now rush to register by October 6. And how will they know if their paperwork goes through? Rich Coolidge, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office, says not to worry. Hold on to your registration receipt, and that should be proof enough for your polling place.
Then hold your breath, cross your fingers, and hope your vote counts. -- Lisa Rab
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