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By Taylor Pendergrass, Director of Advocacy and Strategic Alliances

Colorado’s reputation as having some of the strongest voting laws in the country is well-deserved. However, this reputation can obscure the barriers and threats that historically disenfranchised voters continue to face. With strong statewide protections, it is more important than ever that the ACLU of Colorado vigilantly monitors racist gerrymandering and voter suppression at the local level.

This year, grassroots organizations in El Paso County contacted the ACLU of Colorado to raise such concerns. Historically, the county’s maps have disenfranchised Black and Brown voters. As the El Paso County Commissioners moved forward with a new redistricting process this year, they were on the verge of continuing to suppress these voters. 

We immediately swung into action. ACLU of Colorado conducted a complex data analysis that proved the historical dilution of voting power for people of color in El Paso County. We also put forward maps that modeled alternative districts that would be fairer and more equitable. In partnership with the NAACP, Colorado Latinos Vote, the Latina Equity Foundation and League of Women Voters, we submitted a testimony reminding the Commission of their legal obligations under the Voting Rights Act and Colorado state law 

With additional and continued pressure from grassroots organizations, activists on the ground, and media outlets, the Commissioners adopted a fair map that will finally allow voters of color to choose their preferred candidate in future elections.  Across the entire state, we will continue to empower and mobilize voters to make sure that every voter’s voice will be heard.

Colored map of voting precincts divided by white and non-white voters