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AG Weiser issues public advisory on voting laws, pledging to go after threats to voter safety

June 6, 2022, 3:23 pm

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser on Monday issued the following press release on the state’s voting laws and promised to prosecute anyone threatening voter safety:

Phil Weiser
Attorney General Phil Weiser

Attorney General Phil Weiser today issued public advisories reassuring Coloradans that the state will protect their right to vote safely and will work to ensure the security of all officials and employees charged with safeguarding and administering Colorado’s elections. Attorney General Weiser also pledged that his office will hold accountable those who threaten or intimidate voters, election workers, and election officials. 

The advisories provide guidance on the crimes of voter or election worker intimidation, their penalties, and how to report violations should a person witness or be a target of voter intimidation at a polling center or at an official ballot drop box. They also highlight a new law that states it is unlawful for anyone to openly carry a firearm near voting locations.

Weiser is releasing these advisories as primary ballots are sent out through the mail this week, making clear that voter intimidation is illegal under state and federal law. 

“Coloradans have the right to a free and fair election,” said Weiser. “Whether someone chooses to vote via mail, at a ballot drop box, or in person at a polling center, they and those who are ensuring the security of those votes should feel safe to participate in our democratic process. My office will hold accountable anyone who should attempt to interfere.”

Under Colorado law, voter intimidation occurs when someone interferes, impedes, or prevents another from voting, or pressures a person to vote for or against a candidate or ballot initiative. Voter intimidation is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, up to one year imprisonment, or both. It is also illegal to interfere with an election official while performing their duties. The crime of interfering with an election official is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $750, up to 120 days imprisonment, or both.

The attorney general and local district attorneys have authority to prosecute voter intimidation crimes.

Highlights from the attorney general’s advisories include:

  • It is unlawful for any person to openly carry a firearm: (1) at a polling location; (2) within 100 feet of a ballot drop-box; (3) or in any building in which a polling location is located. This prohibition is in effect on the day of any election and during any time when voting is permitted. Certain exceptions are provided for persons on their private property, uniformed security guards, and peace officers. The prohibition does not apply to concealed carry firearms. 
  • Doxxing election workers is illegal. It is illegal to knowingly place on the Internet an election official’s or worker’s, or their immediate family member’s, personal information if doing so poses an imminent and serious threat to the official’s or worker’s safety, or that of their immediate family members, and the person in violation is aware or should be aware of such threat. 
  • Not just anyone can claim to be a poll watcher. In Colorado, for a person to be a poll watcher, they generally must have been selected by a political party, unaffiliated or write-in candidate, or registered issue committee; have their name certified to the county clerk and recorder on an official list; and present their certificate to the election judges at the time they enter the polling center and are sworn in by the judges.
  • Poll watchers are subject to the same laws prohibiting voter intimidation as all other persons are. No person, including election officials, other voters, poll watchers, law enforcement officers, or other government officials may intimidate a voter. Poll watchers must also follow other rules and laws governing how to watch poll center activities.

Click here to view the voter intimidation advisory, and here to view the election worker safety advisory.

Any person who witnesses or is a target of voter intimidation or election worker intimidation should contact their local law enforcement agency or county clerk and recorder for immediate assistance, or the Colorado Attorney General’s Office at (720) 508-6000. In an emergency, people should call 911.

Additional information on voting procedures can be found on the Colorado Secretary of State’s voter resource webpage.

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