Advocacy Groups and Colorado Secretary of State Reach Agreement on Protections for Voters Against PurgesRelease Date: January 22, 2010, 12:00 am
Denver, CO – On Friday, January 22, a federal court approved an agreement between voting groups and the Colorado Secretary of State to protect voting rights. Mi Familia Vota, Colorado Common Cause, and the Service Employee International Union (SEIU) are plaintiffs in a case against the Secretary originally brought in the fall of 2008 to ensure that thousands of Colorado voters illegally purged from the registration lists would have their votes counted.
Days before Election Day in 2008, the parties reached an agreement hailed by voting rights and good-government groups in Colorado and nationwide as a victory for voters whereby improperly purged voters would be placed on a protection list for the November 2008 election to ensure their votes would count. After the November election, Plaintiffs amended their lawsuit to bring about more permanent protections.
This agreement resolves three of the claims in the lawsuit. The current Secretary of State has adopted several rule changes regarding matching criteria before duplicate registration records are cancelled, cancellation policies within 90 days of a federal election, and procedures for ensuring that voters who do not vote in every election are not stricken from the rolls simply because they are infrequent voters. Additionally the Secretary has agreed to reinstate voters improperly purged from the voting rolls; provide public reports on current list maintenance processes, and provide the groups advance notice if the Secretary seeks to modify existing regulations currently protecting voters.
“This is a major victory for Colorado. The voters can be assured that this agreement makes the cancellation process more transparent and allows for greater accountability,” said Jessie Ulibarri, Colorado state director of Mi Familia Vota Education Fund.
As part of the agreement, Plaintiffs retain the right to go back to the Courts for relief in the event that the underlying problems resurface. “We look forward to continued progress in implementing this agreement. But, we can and will go back to the courts if there is any effort to undo these important protections for Colorado voters,” said Lauren Martens, Director of the SEIU Colorado State Council.
“We are pleased that we were able to work with the Secretary of State to achieve this agreement. More work needs to be done in Colorado on behalf of voters, and we hope this agreement is just one of a series of partnerships in that direction,” said Jenny Flanagan, Director of Colorado Common Cause.
The Plaintiffs are represented by the Advancement Project, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the Fair Elections Legal Network, and the law firms of Debevoise and Plimpton and Altshuler Berzon.
For a copy of the settlement, go to http://www.fairelectionsnetwork.com/_data/global/images/Settlement%20Agreement.pdf