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Colorado General Assembly urges Congress to protect voting rights ahead of ’22 election

January 18, 2022, 2:06 pm

Colorado House and Senate Democrats passed a resolution in the General Assembly in Denver on Tuesday urging Congress to act now to pass voting right protections nationally as more and more Republican-controlled states act to restrict voting access:

The Colorado House and Senate today passed measures calling on Congress to defend democracy and pass critical voting rights protections. The measures , HR22-1004 and SM22-001, reassert the validity of the 2020 election results and highlight Colorado’s Gold Standard elections system to the nation as a model for holding free, safe, and secure elections. 

Democratic legislators condemned attempts across the country to restrict voting rights, lauded the safeguards in place in our state, and urged action to protect voting rights across the country. Republicans in the House offered and largely voted in favor of amendments calling into question the election of Joe Biden as president, encouraging states to conduct sham Arizona-style election “audits,” and thanking Representative Ron Hanks and the insurrectionists who attempted to stop the US Congress from certifying the 2020 election certification on January 6. 

Republicans also supported amendments offering support for Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, who is currently under federal and state investigations for election security breaches. 

“We will not be silent while states across our country use lies and conspiracies to attack voting rights and make it harder for people of color to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” said Rep. Tony Exum, Sr, D-Colorado Springs. “Silence about the lies and conspiracies that were spread about the 2020 election is what led to the violent insurrection on January 6th. Protecting the right to vote, something that Black Americans fought and died for and the most fundamental of right in our democracy, should not divide us. As Dr. King’s family has said, we cannot truly honor his legacy and all those who fought tirelessly for voting rights unless we urgently add our voice to those calling on Congress to protect our democracy.” 

“The right to vote is sacred, but right now across the country that right is in jeopardy as states across the country are dead set on making it harder for communities of color and for young folks to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” said Senator James Coleman, D-Denver. “These unacceptable attacks on the right to vote are damaging to our democracy, and we must stand together as one and condemn them – as well as those pushing the lies and misinformation spurring their actions in the first place. If we truly want to honor the memory of Dr. King,  Congress must quickly pass critical voting rights legislation that will stop these escalating attacks on voters, and to take steps to ensure that every eligible voter can make their voice heard at the ballot box.” 

“Before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, election officials routinely ‘ran out’ of voter registration cards when Latinos asked for them, refused assistance to American citizens who could not read English and regularly beat and intimidated Latinos who were simply trying to exercise their right to vote,” said Rep. Kerry Tipper, D-Lakewood. “We will not stand by while states pass laws to suppress the vote and take us back to when people of color were denied their fundamental constitutional rights. I’m proud the General Assembly took the important step today to reassert the validity of the 2020 election results and condemn the lies and falsehoods that led to the violent insurrection on January 6th and the renewed efforts in state legislatures across the country to suppress the vote.” 

“The threat to our democracy posed by continuing efforts across the country to suppress marginalized communities is unacceptable, and it’s far past time we put a stop to it,” said Senator Julie Gonzales, D-Denver. “When the right to vote is under attack anywhere, it’s under attack everywhere, and we need to do everything we can to defend our democracy and ensure equal access to the ballot box. Colorado has proven that you can have safe, secure elections without making it harder for folks to vote, and we urge Congress to ensure that every eligible voter has the opportunity to exercise their fundamental right to vote.” 

The resolution passed the House by a vote of 40-23 and the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 20-13. 

The full text of the resolution is below:

WHEREAS, Every January we honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his heroic efforts to advance voting rights and we aspire to follow in his footsteps; and 

WHEREAS, No one did more to promote the right to vote for Disenfranchised Americans than the civil rights leaders of the 1960s, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Congressman John Lewis, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Ella Baker; and 

WHEREAS, Until the United States Congress passed the federal “Voting Rights Act of 1965”, people of color in the United States were frequently subject to poll taxes, literacy tests, and fraud and intimidation, preventing them from exercising their right to cast a ballot; and 

WHEREAS, The United States Senate is considering critical federal elections reform and long overdue updates to the federal “Voting Rights Act of 1965” to preserve voting rights for generations to come, in honor of the legacy of the late Congressman John Lewis; and 

WHEREAS, Colorado’s electoral system serves as an example to  the rest of the nation, and in fact the world, of how to expand voter access while protecting electoral integrity through safeguards including risk-limiting audits and signature verification; and 

WHEREAS, In the 2020 election, Colorado had the second highest voter turnout of any state in the nation, and Colorado’s largest voting bloc young people ages 18 to 34 — turned out in record numbers; and 

WHEREAS, Efforts to suppress the vote and disenfranchise Americans who historically have had the least access to the ballot have been on the rise across the country in recent years; and 

WHEREAS, Last year, more than 440 bills with provisions that restrict voting access were introduced in 49 states, including here in Colorado, where legislation was introduced to restrict voters’ access to Colorado’s vote by mail system, a national model of excellence for  election access, security, and integrity; and 

WHEREAS, Last year, 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting, including Georgia’s Senate Bill 202 and Texas’ Senate Bill No.1, both of which made it more difficult for voters to exercise their fundamental right to vote enshrined in the United States Constitution and  the federal “Voting Rights Act of 1965”; and 

WHEREAS, Falsehoods and conspiracies regarding the integrity of the 2020 election have run rampant in our media and public discourse; and 

WHEREAS, The months-long, coordinated attempt to interfere with the democratic process following the November 2020 election and prevent the peaceful transfer of power by overturning the legitimate results of the presidential election, which culminated at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, serves as a violent reminder of the fragility of our democracy; now, therefore, 

Be It Resolved by the House of Representatives of the Seventy-third 32 General Assembly of the State of Colorado: 

That we, the members of the Colorado House of Representatives: -2- HR22-1004 

(1) Reassert the validity of the 2020 presidential election results as legitimate and verified; 

(2) Offer Colorado’s premier electoral system as a model for state across the country to adopt in order to increase voter participation while ensuring electoral integrity; and 

(3) Call on the United States Congress, and specifically members  of the United States Senate, to pass comprehensive voting rights legislation to protect the fundamental right to vote, which has been the cornerstone of our democracy since the founding of our republic. 

Be It Further Resolved, That copies of this Resolution be sent to the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, the President of the United States Senate, the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, the Minority Leader of the United States Senate, and all members of the Colorado Congressional delegation.

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