Voter Service - Confined Voting
Every few months – sometimes more often – trained League volunteers gather with Denver Elections and Denver Sheriff’s Department staffs and representatives of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition at the two Denver jails (see the photo with Anne and the Confined Voting team). Starting early in the morning, we spend a day in each facility, going from pod to pod to educate incarcerated citizens about their rights and to register those eligible to vote. Many people, including those serving time or awaiting trial, are surprised to learn they can vote. In Colorado, only those currently serving a sentence for a felony are ineligible. The rest, including those convicted of a misdemeanor or awaiting trial, are eligible voters. For the last several years we have registered far more voters in the jails than anywhere else.
In addition to helping people with the registration form, we answer questions about elections, voting, and the responsibilities of levels of government. When possible we also conduct in-person voting in the jails. In 2020, Denver was one of three counties in the U.S. that enabled incarcerated citizens to vote in person. We will be helping with in-person voting again for the April 4 Denver Municipal Election. None of this could happen without the support of the Denver Sheriff’s Office and staff in both jails.
Our experience in the jails has been overwhelmingly positive. We always have a deputy with us, so it feels very safe. It also feels worthwhile; these are people whose voices are often silent. We are regularly thanked by jail staff and those who are ineligible, as well as by those we register. We always hear some unusual stories. It’s worth remembering, too, that most of those who are incarcerated will not be in jail forever; the more connections they have with the community, the more likely they are to be able to avoid re-offending once they are released.
If you have questions about the Confined Voting Projector you are interested in helping, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anne Duncan, Co-Chair, Voter Service