American flags are seen on a table at a polling location in Parker on June 28, 2022. (Carl Payne for Colorado Newsline)
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold reminded Coloradans of their right to safely vote without interference Wednesday now that early voting is underway.
“Colorado elections are accessible, secure, and transparent,” Griswold, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Voter intimidation is illegal. Any intimidation or harassment that interferes with voters’ right to make their voices heard will not be tolerated.”
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The office encouraged voters to be aware of election disinformation and anyone canvassing door-to-door falsely claiming to work for the state. The release said no election officials in Colorado conduct door-to-door voter participation surveys, and voters are not required to answer questions about their voting history or registration status — voters are allowed to ask door-to-door solicitors for their names, credentials and organizations they represent. A secret ballot is a constitutional right in Colorado.
The secretary of state’s office is not aware of canvassing occurring recently, a spokesperson told Newsline, but wanted to remind Coloradans to be on the lookout after seeing such activity in 2021. Earlier this year, three Colorado civil rights organizations filed a lawsuit against U.S. Election Integrity Plan alleging their door-to-door canvassing is a “voter intimidation campaign” that violates the Ku Klux Klan Act. Congress passed the act following the Civil War amid violent voter intimidation campaigns in the south.
We as sheriffs need to make sure that people feel not intimidated, and that if they want to cast a ballot or not cast a ballot, that is absolutely their right.
– Rio Blanco County Sheriff Anthony Mazzola
Individuals are also prohibited from openly carrying a gun within 100 feet of a ballot drop box, voting center or ballot processing facility, except for law enforcement and licensed security officials. This is due to a Colorado law that passed this year amid concerns over voter intimidation. Campaigning is also prohibited within 100 feet of the same locations.
Rio Blanco County Sheriff Anthony Mazzola, who also serves as president of the County Sheriffs of Colorado, said he maintains open communication with his local clerk and recorder and police departments so everyone is ready if a law enforcement response becomes necessary on Election Day. He said in a statement that Colorado sheriffs are committed to protecting the right to safely vote.
“We as sheriffs need to make sure that people feel not intimidated, and that if they want to cast a ballot or not cast a ballot, that is absolutely their right,” Mazzola told Newsline Wednesday.
Drop boxes are under 24/7 video surveillance and anyone who feels harassed or threatened while voting should contact local law enforcement, the release said. It is a felony to tamper with voting equipment, and it’s illegal to harass election workers.
The most accurate information voters can find on their elections can be found through their local county clerk’s office or GoVoteColorado.gov.
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