Paroled Coloradans Are Now Eligible To Vote

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Voting at the Hiawatha David Jr. Rec. Center polling station in Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood on Election Day 2016.

Several new laws went into effect on July 1 that will make voting in Colorado even more accessible. One restores voting rights to people on parole.

Until now, parolees in Colorado were barred from voting but could pre-register to vote after their parole period was over. The new law clarifies that a person on parole is considered to have completed their sentence and are eligible voters.

People who are on the pre-registry will immediately become registered voters and any new parolees will be automatically registered to vote upon their release from prison.

In a statement, state Rep. Leslie Herod, one of the sponsors for the bill, said there are now tens of thousands of people in Colorado who are newly eligible to become voters.

“Effective immediately, individuals out of prison and on parole are eligible to vote,” Herod said. “I encourage the more than 11,000 people who now qualify to register to and exercise your fundamental right to have a say in our democracy and in our communities.”

Secretary of State Jena Griswold said her office will work with the Department of Corrections to ensure that people are offered the option to register as soon as their parole is approved. Her office will also educate those already on parole about the opportunities available to them.

"Colorado's achievement in the advancement of voting access continues to shine in stark contrast to the voter suppression we see across the nation,” Griswold said. “This is very much in line with Coloradans belief that everyone who is eligible should have their voices heard."

Another bill, which goes into effect Aug. 2, will make automatic voter registration even more automatic. Every time you make changes to your driver's license or provide information to a state Medicaid office, you'll get a postcard in the mail giving you 20 days to opt out of voter registration. If you don't respond, you'll be automatically registered to vote or automatically have your registration updated with the most current information.