DENVER, CO — House Speaker Alec Garnett and Representative Yadira Caraveo, the sponsor of a new law to expand access to multilingual ballots as well as legislation to enhance our gold standard elections system in Colorado, today released the following statements condemning the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold two discriminatory Arizona laws that restrict access to voting.
“Voting should be easy, accessible and secure, and in Colorado, we’ve set the gold standard for administering secure elections that expand turnout and participation,” said Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver. “I am beyond disappointed that the conservative majority on the Supreme Court has sanctioned discriminatory voting laws that specifically aim to disenfranchise people of color. Without federal action to protect voting rights, we will see continued efforts in states across the country to restrict access to the ballot, so Congress must urgently act to pass voting rights legislation that ensures every eligible American can cast their vote. While a blow to voting rights nationwide, the Court’s decision today will not stop Colorado from continuing to set the gold standard for elections, and I urge other states around the country to follow our lead.”
“Today, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court handed down a decision that will allow states to make it harder for their citizens to exercise their right to vote and which will have a disproportionate impact on people of color,” said Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton. “Across the country, and here in Colorado, Republican state lawmakers have tried to make it harder to vote. Each time in Colorado, we have defeated these efforts because they would undermine our democracy and roll back the progress we’ve made. Colorado House Democrats will continue to defend the rights of voters and improve the security and accessibility of our elections, and we call on Congress to take action to address this critical threat to our democracy.”
The case, brought by the Democratic National Committee against Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, challenged two Arizona voting provisions and tested what remains of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965. The first is what’s known as an out-of-precinct policy that requires an entire ballot to be thrown out if the ballot was cast in the wrong precinct. The second is a state law enacted by the Arizona legislature in 2016 which makes it a felony offense punishable by up to two years in prison for most people to collect and deliver another person’s completed ballot. The DNC argued that both policies violate Section 2 of the VRA because they result in racial discrimination and have a disproportionate impact on minority voters. Opponents of the Arizona laws argue they are discriminatory in part because the state has a history of switching polling places more frequently in minority neighborhoods and that minority voters are more likely to need assistance with their ballots. The decision further undermines the Voting Rights Act of 1965, limiting the ability of the landmark federal law to combat voting restrictions that have disproportionate impacts on communities of color.
During the 2021 legislative session, Democrats passed two bills that will improve elections in Colorado. SB21-250, an omnibus elections package sponsored by Representatives Yadira Caraveo and Susan Lontine, will make it easier to register to vote and improve access to drop boxes and Voter Service and Polling Centers. Democrats also passed HB21-1011, also sponsored by Representative Caraveo, which will give all voters access to a hotline that would provide over-the-phone ballot translation in the top languages in which the census was offered. In addition, it would require that in counties where a minority language is spoken by either 2,000 eligible voters or 2.5% of those eligible, the county must print ballots in that language, either on paper or electronically.