Getting Out the Inmate Vote

In Colorado, the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition (CCJRC) has been helping inmates who are eligible to vote. The Aspen Daily News reports:

In Colorado you are barred from voting only from the day you are convicted of a felony offense until you complete your prison time and any parole sentence.

So you can vote if you are in jail on a misdemeanor conviction, free on bail for any crime, if you are a pre-trial jail detainee, or have completed your sentence and parole. Colorado felons are allowed to vote while on probation.

Colorado is considered "moderate" when it comes to inmate voting. Among other states, [More...]

12 states permanently ban people from voting if they’ve ever been incarcerated for a felony, 18 bar them until they have completed a sentence and any probationary period.

There are 15 states with less restrictions on felon voting than Colorado — including Maine and Vermont, where convicts are not restricted from voting in any way, and are allowed to vote from prison.

In Aspen, Sheriff Bob Braudis and his deputies have always encouraged inmate voting. This year, 25% of the inmates there voted (3 out of 13):

“We are committed to making sure eligible inmates have the opportunity to vote,” Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, who oversees the jail, said this week.....Pitkin County jailer Jim DeBerge solicited the voter-eligible inmates here before the Oct. 6 registration deadline. A 25-year veteran of the jail, DeBerge has coordinated inmate voting before, but he said this was the first time an outside group sent him information packets to help register inmates in a vote-from-jail campaign.

What about those pesky voter id requirements?

None of the men who voted from the jail had driver’s licenses or any of the identifying paperwork required to vote. But DeBerge printed their jail booking photos and information, which the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s office accepted.

The inmates in Denver's county jail were not so lucky.

Denver County Jail tried the same thing for between 30 and 40 of its inmates who wanted to vote but did not have identification. They were rejected and not allowed to register, said Major Victoria Connors, who runs the 2,000-inmate facility.

In 2004, only 30 Denver inmates asked to vote. This year, 150 sought ballots. The jail holds 2,000 and Connors said about 400 are eligible to vote. Among those who voted:

One of their detainee voters, she said, was a man facing 19 felony accusations, likely convictions and the rest of his life in state penitentiaries.

“This is probably the last time he’ll vote in his life,” she said. “It makes you realize what a privilege it is that you’re taking away from people.”

Inmates in two of our Republican counties are less likely to receive voting cooperation:

In Arapahoe and El Paso counties, for instance, jail officials don’t inform inmates of their voting rights unless they ask.

Every vote counts. Here's information for California, which also allows those on probation to vote.

It would be nice if jails had polling places. Australia has "prison mobile teams" that let inmates vote while incarcerated.

One final reason to vote early: What if you get arrested this weekend or Monday and don't make bond by Tuesday?

< World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party | Gallup: Obama By 10 >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    It is amazing (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by jazzcattg1 on Sat Nov 01, 2008 at 12:57:18 PM EST
    that the most of the states place an impediment to voting for felons that have paid their debt to society, yet they have no trouble collecting sales/income taxes from these people.

    Yep (none / 0) (#2)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sat Nov 01, 2008 at 03:39:41 PM EST
    the same for 12 year olds who buy things.

    Yeah, all those houses and cars (none / 0) (#4)
    by sj on Sat Nov 01, 2008 at 10:43:19 PM EST
    and licenses and fees that 12 year olds spend their money on are all the same thing.

    Or counting them as residents (none / 0) (#6)
    by SamJohnson on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 12:20:47 AM EST
    to redistrict areas to give Republicans another opportunity to cadge votes.

    This has been an issue of mine (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by sj on Sat Nov 01, 2008 at 10:48:24 PM EST
    for a long time.  I'm glad that Colorado has a more lenient policy.  Voting rights is a big deal to me.  And the incredibly outrageous cost of a telephone call from a jail or prison are a HUGE burden not to the inmate, but to the families of those who are incarcerated.  I know that the rights of the incarcerated are far, far from being a popular cause.  But wrong is wrong.  And society should be better than the criminal.  

    That is the most retarded (none / 0) (#3)
    by jazzcattg1 on Sat Nov 01, 2008 at 09:13:30 PM EST
    comment to a critical question, Wile....bush/cheney must be proud of your stupidity.