Eighteen Colorado organizations sponsored a rally today at the Tivoli Quad on the Auraria Campus in downtown Denver to celebrate Colorado’s gold-standard election laws and to lobby the U.S. Senate to pass the For the People Act, federal legislation to set national standards for election administration, protect voting rights, and reform campaign finance laws.
Today’s rally coincides with Major League Baseball’s (MLB) All-Star Game festivities held in Denver this weekend. The annual sporting event is considered a major public relations and economic boon to host cities.
Originally awarded to Atlanta, Georgia, the MLB moved the All-Star event to Denver in protest after the GOP-controlled Georgia legislature passed partisan election reform laws following the runoff election for two Georgia Senate seats and the presidential election of 2020. Democratic candidates prevailed in all three races.
Speakers at the All-Star Voting Rights Rally were introduced by Rochelle Galindo, director of Colorado People’s Action, and included Denver County Clerk and Recorder Paul Lopez; Nadia Belkin of America Votes, a progressive group; Salvador Hernandez of Mi Familia Vota; and frontline workers from the United States Postal Service. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser was also in attendance.
In her speech to a crowd of about 200 attendees, Colorado state Sen. Julie Gonzalez (D-Denver) celebrated Colorado’s gains in modernizing its election laws and expanding access to voters while other states restrict ballot access.
“Colorado has built policies that, instead of restricting access to the ballot, actually expanded access to the ballot,” Gonzalez said. “Now why does that matter? … We know that there are forces out there who are continuing to fight to restrict access, to keep the status quo, to ensure that the rich and few hold more power than the rest of us.”
U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Maryland), sponsor of the For the People Act (H.R. 1), offered his comments to rally attendees via audio recording. The U.S. House passed the act more than four months ago, but it has stalled in the Senate without sufficient votes to overcome a filibuster. Some Democrats have advocated to end the filibuster rule in order to get the For the People Act passed out of the U.S. Senate.
“And basically, this was written by you, by the American people,” Sarbanes said. “The fact of the matter is, Democrats, unaffilateds, and Republicans all support the For the People Act, and the reason is, there is nothing particularly controversial in there. It’s all stuff you’ve been asking for for years — the voting part of the bill, much of which was written by the late great John Lewis is designed to make sure people can exercise their freedom to vote. It also pushes back, by the way, on this voter suppression effort that we’ve seen — this stampede of voter suppression across the country in the last 2 or 3 months.”
Since reforming its election laws in 2013, Colorado has enjoyed a national spotlight for its gold-standard elections system, which has been widely touted by voters, county clerks, Secretary of State administrations from both parties, and national observers for ensuring election integrity while increasing voter turnout by enacting policies that enhance security, convenience, efficiency, and access for voters.
Unlike Georgia and other red states, Colorado hasn’t recorded any official challenges of widespread election fraud in the most recent election, nor in preceding elections. Colorado’s voter turnout rate is rated second in the nation, falling just short of Minnesota.
Following former President Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, many Republican-controlled states have challenged election results in court, conducted dubious third-party audits of verified and certified election results, and enacted laws to limit absentee and mail-in voting, ballot harvesting, liberal voter registration requirements, ballot access, and convenience for voters.
Georgia’s new sweeping legislation has been widely controversial and deemed to be draconian, although in a PR damage control campaign Georgia Republicans falsely characterized as similar and comparable to Colorado’s laws.
Some political scientists and commentators have suggested that laws such as those passed in Georgia will suppress voter participation and turnout in certain targeted populations.
Common Cause Colorado, Colorado Sierra Club, AFSCME Council 18, Colorado AFL-CIO, Colorado Latino Forum, Colorado People’s Action, Denver Area Labor Federation, Women’s Lobby of Colorado, Indivisible Colorado, were some of the sponsoring organizations for today’s rally.
A news release for the rally added that “a coalition of over 50 organizations and elected leaders from around the state [have] signed a statement of principles in support of an inclusive democracy and denouncing attacks on the freedom to vote. … The entire list of signers can be found here.“