DENVER, CO – Legislation sponsored by Representatives Jennifer Bacon and Tom Sullivan to prevent armed voter intimidation today passed the State, Civic, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee by a vote of 7-4.
“Every voter should be able to cast their ballot without fear, and no one should be able to use a firearm to try to intimidate voters and election officials,” said Rep. Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver. “Firearms being used to intimidate voters, especially voters of color, is nothing new in this country, but we are seeing alarming incidents that cannot continue. The Vote Without Fear Act will help protect against armed intimidation when people go to vote or if they are one of the tireless public servants who oversee our elections.”
“The Vote Without Fear Act protects our democracy and our fundamental right to vote by prohibiting armed intimidation at voting locations,” said Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial. “No one should be made to feel afraid when they vote, but that’s exactly what we see happening when armed individuals show up at polling places. This is a common sense bill to protect access to the ballot and help ensure voters can vote without fear.”
HB22-1086 protects the right to vote by prohibiting the open carry of firearms at or near polling places. Armed voter intimidation is rising across the country, and there have been several well publicized incidents where armed individuals have attempted to dissuade people from voting. These incidents have not just been targeted at voters, but also have aimed to intimidate nonpartisan election officials from doing their jobs. The legislation advanced today would extend protections that already exist for settings such as government buildings and legislative hearings to polling places, as well. Last year in Littleton, two men, one of whom was armed, filmed people dropping off their ballots, leading some voters to feel unsafe.