How Colorado's voting laws compare to those of Georgia amid MLB All-Star Game move

Rep. Crow: "No serious comparison between voting laws in Colorado and Georgia"
denver colorado primary election 2020
Posted at 2:59 PM, Apr 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-06 19:36:03-04

DENVER – Major League Baseball’s move to bring the All-Star Game to Denver from Atlanta this year has led to false comparisons about the voting laws of Colorado and Georgia over the past 24 hours.

The notion that Georgia’s voter laws are less restrictive than Colorado’s has falsely been claimed by a South Carolina senator, Georgia’s governor, Fox News reporters, Newsweek and others on social media.

The comparison was quick to be made by some Republicans when local news media, including Denver7, reported Monday that the game would be headed to Coors Field this July after MLB pulled it out of Atlanta in response to new voting laws passed by Georgia lawmakers and signed by its governor.

People have criticized Georgia’s voting law changes, saying they disproportionately affect people of color and hinder people’s right to vote. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, said on Fox News that MLB was “hypocritical” for picking Colorado over Georgia and mischaracterized Colorado’s laws.

MORE: A Denver7 guide to voting in Colorado

Here’s a look at some of the differences between Colorado’s voting laws, which officials have called the “gold standard” in the U.S., and those of Georgia:

Early voting, mail ballots, electioneering

Many have pointed to the fact that Georgia has 17 days of early, in-person voting compared to a minimum of 15 in Colorado. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., made the comparison in a widely-shared tweet in which he said Georgia “has more day-of voting rights than CO” and said, “The Wokes are at it again, folks.”

But that fact regarding in-person voting fails to account for the fact that Colorado sends every registered voter a mail ballot 22 days prior to Election Day, so they are generally received at least 15 days in advance of an election. Said ballot can be mailed back, dropped off at a drop box, or not used if a person chooses to vote in-person at a polling location.

Some Colorado counties also open early voting up more than 15 days prior to the election in more highly-populated areas.

Additionally, Coloradans are able to register to vote in the days leading up to and on Election Day, while in Georgia, people have to register at least 28 days before Election Day.

In Georgia, voters now have to request an absentee ballot if they choose not to vote in-person. The state sent absentee ballots to all voters in 2020 without them having to request one to encourage voting.

But Georgia’s new law also cut the time by which voters can request an absentee ballot from nearly 6 months to less than 3 months. The New York Times reported that about one-quarter of Georgians voted with absentee ballots in the 2020 General Election.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said about 94% of Coloradans voted using their mail ballots last year, and Colorado had the nation’s second-highest voter turnout among states. The secretary of state said Tuesday that 86.5% of active Colorado voters cast a ballot in November’s General Election. That is part of the reason that Colorado rarely sees long voting lines or issues with electioneering within 100 feet of polling places, or handing out food and water on Election Day.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s new law caps the number of ballot drop boxes at one per 100,000 voters, according to the New York Times, and bars people from providing money, gifts, food or drinks to anyone standing in line to vote.

“Our average wait time in Colorado on Election Day across the state is 7 minutes. They have 12-hour-long lines,” Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said in an interview Tuesday.

She added that only about 200,000 Coloradans chose to vote in-person during November’s election, and that Colorado had more than 390 drop boxes across the state based on county size.

Voter ID

The issue of voter ID has also been brought up often on social media.

Matt Whitlock, a Republican communications professional who used to run communications for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said that MLB “better be ready to explain why this is more acceptable than Georgia after that absurd political statement” after the move to Denver was announced.

While it’s true that both states require some form of ID in order to vote, the differences are not as simple as saying “both states have voter ID requirements.”

In Colorado, people must show one of 13 forms of ID if they want to vote in person, and that can include a Colorado driver’s license, Colorado ID card, a passport, an employee ID card, a pilot’s license, a copy of a current utility bill, a copy of a birth certificate, a student ID with photograph, and others.

First-time mail voters “may also need to provide a photocopy of your identification when you return your mail ballot,” the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office says.

Georgia voters, meanwhile, have fewer forms of ID they can show, according to the New York Times, and the newly-passed law requires voters absentee voters to provide a copy of a form of identification, including either a driver’s license, state ID, or the last four digits of a Social Security number.

In Colorado, people who do not show a form of ID can cast a provisional ballot and have multiple days to provide ID showing who they are before their ballot can officially count.

“I’m just really proud that Colorado is a shining star for the nation,” Griswold said. “We believe that every eligible voter – Republican Democrat and independent alike – should have their voice heard in safe, secure and convenient elections.”

Reaction from Colorado

White House press secretary Jan Psaki pushed back on a question from Fox News reporter Peter Doocy Tuesday, who claimed the state’s voter laws were similar. President Biden has called for reforms to Georgia's law.

“Colorado allows you to register on Election Day. Colorado has voting by mail where they send to 100% of people in the state who are eligible, an application to vote by mail. 94% of people in Colorado voted by mail in the 2020 election, and they also allow for a range of materials to provide, even if they vote on Election Day, for the limited number of people who vote on Election Day,” Psaki said, going on to add that top Georgia Republicans were “changing rules to exclude more voters.”

Griswold called laws like the ones passed in Georgia “voter suppression” and reiterated calls fro other states to model’s Colorado’s systems.

“I will say that these voter-depressive packages that we’re seeing across the United States, including in Georgia, are based on a lie and misconceptions,” Griswold said. “They’re really coming on the heels of some of those partisan elected officials losing big races, and now they’re trying to restrict voters’ access. But what we know in Colorado is that when you have mail ballots for all early voting, same-day voter registration, you increase participation rates, and historically it has increased equally among Republicans and Democrats.”

Colorado’s Democratic members of Congress also chimed in to refute the notion Colorado’s and Georgia’s laws are similar.

“There is no comparison. In Colorado, we make it easy for people to register. We mail every active voter a ballot. We have drop boxes statewide & had the 2nd highest turnout in 2020. If @BrianKempGA wants to learn more, I’ll save him a seat at Coors Field,” tweeted Sen. Michael Bennet.

“Let me be clear: there’s no serious comparison between voting laws in Colorado and Georgia. Colorado is a vote-by-mail state—we send every registered voter a ballot. We also have same day voter registration,” tweeted Rep. Jason Crow. “Oh, and you can hand out water in line.”

“There’s no better place in America to play baseball than Coors Field,” tweeted Rep. Diana DeGette. “There’s no easier place to cast a ballot than Colorado.”

"Colorado makes it far more convenient for citizens to vote than Georgia," tweeted Rep. Joe Neguse. "Period."

“Colorado set the gold standard for making elections fair, secure, and accessible, and the MLB recognized these efforts by moving the 2021 All-Star game to Denver,” said Sen. John Hickenlooper in a statement. “Our democracy is always strengthened when more people vote. As President Reagan said, ‘The right to vote is the crown jewel of American liberties and we will not see its luster diminished.’"