Voting Rights Win in Colorado

Voting Rights Win in Colorado

It was especially powerful to receive a ruling protecting voting rights on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. After two years in court, a district court judge ruled that Coloradans should not have to, in essence, re-register to vote after missing just one general election.

In the fall of 2011, Secretary Gessler sued Denver County to stop them from mailing ballots to voters who were inactive fail to vote (that is, had not voted in one general election). The court allowed the counties to mail ballots that fall, but the case was still ongoing. Since then Common Cause intervened in the case, arguing that the Secretary’s interpretation of the statute was unconstitutional.

In its ruling, the Court emphasized that Colorado law prohibits “any elector’s registration record from being canceled solely for failure to vote” but that the Secretary’s interpretation of the law would have required some voters who had missed a single election to “re-register” to vote, “effectively penaliz[ing]” citizens “for not voting.” This would have “impeded the voting of some 4,000 — 6,000 IFTV electors in Denver in November 2011 “_ and tens-of-thousands of citizens statewide.”

The final step in this fight will be to get rid of the inactive status completely. We may have the opportunity to do that during this Colorado legislative session. Stay tuned!

Learn more about this case.