Help get Colorado Medicaid recipients registered to vote!
While Colorado’s automatic voter registration has been a success in assisting many individuals to become registered voters, they are not providing full assistance to a community with over 1.4 million individuals in the state of Colorado – Medicaid recipients. These individuals are missing out on an opportunity for an accessible, convenient method of being registered to vote and to have their voice heard. However, Colorado state lawmakers, with the support of PASCO, are hoping to create change surrounding this issue.
Currently, the automatic voter registration program, or AVR, is implemented in DMVs across the state. Those who visit the DMV have their information automatically cross-referenced to the voter database and the system signs up individuals who are not listed. These individuals may later opt-out, but this system has made voter registration a quick process for those who may not have taken the time to do so previously.
However, Medicaid recipients may not always have reliable access to or reason to visit a DMV due to multiple factors. As Secretary of State Jena Griswold said, the goal is to reach potential voters “regardless of their zip code, regardless of the amount of money in their bank account, regardless if they have a car. None of those things disqualify you from voting, so we need to really try to deliver services in an accessible way”.
Senator Michael Bennet recently sent a letter to CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to shine a light on this issue and to urge CMS to allow this AVR program to be accessed in Medicaid offices across Colorado.
Let your voice be heard!
Here’s where we need your help – we want to show our approval of Sen. Bennet’s initiative to implement AVR in Medicaid offices. Below is a sample email that can be sent to Chiquita Brooks-LaSure that shows support for Sen. Bennet’s efforts. Feel free to add personal stories or additional comments for her to read that show why you support this effort. Together, we can urge Chiquita and CMS to create an accessible way to allow more individuals to participate in our democracy.
Email address: Chiquita.Brooks-LaSure@cms.hhs.gov
Subject line: Automatic Voter Registration – CO Medicaid Offices
Email text: Dear Administrator Brooks-LaSure,
I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to you in response to Colorado Senator Michael Bennet’s recent initiative to implement Automatic Voter Registration into Medicaid offices across Colorado. Allowing AVR to be done in Medicaid offices would create an accessible way to have more voices heard through voting. No group should be silenced due to lack of access to resources that others may receive so easily.
There is currently a large sector of our population who are being underserved solely because the current resources in place are not utilized to their full potential. As Sen. Bennet mentioned in his letter, “researchers find that Medicaid enrollment negatively correlates with voter registration and voting. Existing efforts at Medicaid agencies to register enrollees and beneficiaries are insufficient”.
The current AVR system in DMV offices was a promising start in increasing voter registration in Colorado, but many Medicaid recipients do not have the means, or even the need to enter a DMV. Whether they cannot drive, do not have a car due to income, or do not have access to consistent transportation in general, these individuals would have disproportionately fewer opportunities to register. Having their information automatically processed into the voter registration system would be a huge step forward in both the Medicaid and disability spaces as a whole.
I urge you to consider the action items in Sen. Bennet’s letter and allow for CMA confirmation that AVR would not create compliance issues with Medicaid. There is a great opportunity for the state of Colorado and beyond to create accessible resources for our community members and to more easily let them participate in our democracy.
Thank you for your time. Sincerely, (your name).