Eligible inmates housed at the Denver County Jail can exercise their right to vote in this year’s primary and general elections thanks to a new partnership between the Denver Elections Division, the Denver Sheriff’s Department and the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.
The “confined voter process” will also be offered at the county’s Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center.
“In continuing with our mission to administer elections that are secure, accessible, transparent, and efficient, we have identified an opportunity to enhance our service for confined but eligible voters,” said Amber McReynolds, Denver director of elections.
“With this new program, we have enhanced opportunity and access in a secure and effective manner,” McReynolds said.
Ballots will be mailed to the facilities by the U.S. Postal Service and the Elections Division will work with the program administrators at both facilities to distribute the ballots, according to a news release announcing the program. Staff members from the Criminal Justice Reform Coalition will serve as election judges.
“It is important that government agencies support civic engagement for all citizens, including those unable to vote due to confinement,” Denver Sheriff Patrick Firman said. “The Sheriff’s Department is proud to offer its inmate community this cutting-edge service …”
“There is a misconception that Colorado residents held pretrial and those serving a misdemeanor sentence are ineligible to vote,” said Pam Clifton, CCJRC communication coordinator Pam Clifton said. “They are eligible and they need access.
“This partnership aims to bridge the gap to better ensure that all eligible voters in Denver are able to vote. We are honored to partner with the Denver Election Division and the Denver Sheriff’s Department to improve voting access for people in jail.”
In April, there was brief dust-up in the national media when Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order immediately allowing about 200,000 convicted felons who had completed their sentences to register to vote in the November election.
But those with a completed felony sentence have long been able to vote in Colorado, said Clifton. It’s in the state constitution.
This post was updated at 10:04 a.m. June 21 to reflect the fact that the new program also covers the primary elections.