Attorney General Questions Constitutionality Of Parolee Voting

DENVER – Following today’s passage of Senate Bill 83 in the state senate, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers reiterated his legal opinion that a provision of the bill allowing parolees to vote is unconstitutional.

“Just last year, the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously confirmed that parolees are not allowed to vote under the laws of our state,” said Suthers. “If Senate Bill 83 passes, it could cost taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal expenses, just to plow old ground that was tilled less than eight months ago.”

Section 10 of article VII of the Colorado constitution states, “No person while confined in any public prison shall be entitled to vote; but every such person who … is released therefrom by virtue of pardon, or by virtue of having served out his full term of imprisonment, shall without further action, be invested with all the rights of citizenship.”

The case of Danielson v. Dennis (no. 06SA174), which was decided by the Supreme Court on July 31, 2006, determined that Colorado statutes were consistent with article VII of the constitution. In part, the Court’s decision stated, “A person who is serving a sentence of parole has not served his or her full term of imprisonment within the meaning of this constitutional provision.”

Suthers concluded, “Senate Bill 83, which was originally intended to improve the integrity of Colorado’s electoral process, has been saddled with a provision that I believe is unconstitutional. I would urge the legislature to amend the bill to comply with our state’s guiding document.”

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