By H. Michael Steinberg – Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer – The Right To Vote In Colorado
The question – Colorado Criminal Lawyer Series – Will I Lose My Right To Vote If I Am Convicted? is a question I am often asked. It goes to the issue of the “collateral” or indirect – unforeseen impacts of a criminal conviction.
To many – the right to vote is as important as their freedom.
Known as “disenfranchisement” – denying a person the right to vote – it may be inconceivable to you that many states actually “disenfranchise” people – who have been convicted of a felony – for life.
Colorado is not one of those states – It is a compassionate state and it returns the right to vote after you have been released from incarceration and parole.
In Colorado, The Right To Vote After A Criminal Conviction Arises Out Of Statutes And The Colorado Constitution.
CRS 1-2-103 (4) governs the right to vote when you have been incarcerated. It provides that the right to vote is LOST while you are serving a sentence in detention or confinement in a correctional facility, jail, or other location for a felony conviction, or while serving a sentence of parole.
The Colorado Secretary of State has the right to cancel your voter registration if proof of a felony conviction is provided to the office. C.R.S. 1-2-302(3.5)(b), 1-2-606.
BUT – once you have been released from incarceration – under Colorado’s Constitution – your right to vote is immediately restored. Colo. Const. art. 7, Section 10.. If your right to vote was canceled – you must re-register.
In Short – In Colorado – Even A Felony Conviction Will Not Prevent You From Voting – UNLESS you are incarcerated or on parole.
Colorado’s Laws On This Subject May Differ From Other States
All states are not the same. You must check your own state’s laws to see if you are permitted to vote and under what conditions. If you are a resident of Colorado – you benefit from Colorado’s laws even if you have a federal conviction or a conviction in another state while living in this state as a resident.
Only Parole – Not Probation – Even Intensive Probation Will Not Impact This Right.
If you are on probation – you may register to vote and you may cast your vote – do not believe otherwise. The law is clear – but many Colorado probation officers mislead their probationers.
Pre-Trial Incarceration – NOT Sentenced Incarceration
Many persons cannot raise enough money to post their bail and are incarcerated for that reason alone. These individuals have not been convicted. It is important to note that if you are in this situation you DO retain your right to vote. The same is true if you have posted your bond and you are awaiting trial or other disposition of your case. Good Luck.