United States – Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) signed the bill on Friday that establishes the option to vote by mail for inmates confined in county facilities. This is a new effort to extend voting rights for those in local detention.

Colorado Expands Voting Options for County Inmates with New Bill Signing

The law also mandates that counties have an employee oversee the voting process for persons in custody and allow voting on at least one in-person day. Colorado does not allow felons to vote, but there is a chance for those who have been convicted of only misdemeanors or those awaiting trial, as reported by The Hills.

Expansion of Voting Facilities Planned for November Election

The voting facilities will be available in at least 61 facilities in the county across Colorado for the November election, according to the Colorado secretary of state.

Addressing Past Voting Access Challenges

Democratic State Sen. Julie Gonzales, who sponsored the bill, said the effort seeks to address prior issues that resulted in the denial of opportunities for many prisoners to vote.

“In Colorado, we really pride ourselves on our gold star election system,” Gonzales said. “Yet we realized that there was a group of individuals who weren’t able to fully access the ballot.”

National Context and Advocacy Efforts

Currently, only eight jails across the United States permit inmates to conveniently vote, and two of those are in Denver, as has been determined by the Prison Policy Institute. The Denver program was initiated in 2020, and over 150 inmates voted in that election, as reported by The Hills.

Although, for several years, the activists urged states to let ex-felons vote after their release, little has been done in campaigning for voting rights for prisoners. Data from the Justice Department put the number of pretrial detainees at half a million as of 2022 across the United States.