A Colorado bill encouraging 10,000 parolees to vote passed the House Committee on State, Veterans and Military Affairs on Thursday. The Voter Registration Individuals Criminal Justice Act, which passed with a 4-3 vote and had bi-partisan sponsorship, would pre-register parolees so they would automatically be able to vote upon completion of their sentences. Parole officers would inform the parolees of their voting rights and put to rest an urban myth that prior offenders can’t participate in state elections. Bill sponsor, Representative Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, told the committee that he regularly encounters people while campaigning door-to-door who wrongly believe prior felony convictions prevent them from voting. A proponent of restorative justice, Lee has described the United States as “the Incarceration Nation.”
“Colorado is not an exception to this pattern,” he said on his website. “We are incarcerating people at increasing rates, and then releasing them un-rehabilitated, unrepentant and unprepared to rejoin our communities.”
Representative Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, said what sold him on the bill was that it calls those who have served their sentences back into the fold. He also liked that it helped maintain a clean voter roll and sponsored education.
“I think if we believe in a rehabilitative system of justice, we should strive for reintegration … when we have people who have paid their debt to society back on the voter roll, they have a vested interest in the community,” McKean said at Thursday’s committee meeting.
Full Article: Colorado Bill Aims to Register 10,000 Parolees to Vote.