Protecting our fragile democracy during this uncertain time requires ensuring the voices of voters who are systemically disenfranchised are heard in force at the ballot box. Prior to the midterm elections, ACLU of Colorado launched We Are the Vote, a new multi-year campaign to remove barriers preventing those voters, along with justice-involved and young voters, from casting their ballots in Colorado. Our true success will be measured over the long term in ensuring more and more voters - who have historically been excluded - consistently participate year-over-year, election-over-election.
Coloradans were split on important civil rights and civil liberties issues facing our state in this midterm election, showing progress is possible but there is still a lot more work to be done.
On one hand, Colorado voters overwhelmingly said YES to voter accessibility by passing statewide Proposition GG to require additional transparency for certain state ballot measures to include a tax table to show families how much cost or saving they can expect. Voters in Boulder passed a local measure to line up their local elections with even-year state and federal elections which are known to reduce voter fatigue and increase voter participation.
The ACLU’s own polling has shown Coloradans overwhelmingly want to see an end to the failed and racist War on Drugs, and that’s why we hope to see the passage of Statewide Proposition 122 to decriminalize the personal use of some hallucinogenic plants and fungi. However, there is still a long road ahead in unwinding the harms of 50 years of failed drug policy. On the other hand, we saw a cynical campaign using the typical “tough on crime” scare tactics to defeat a ballot measure to allow recreational marijuana sales in the city.
Our fight to end the housing crisis in parts of Colorado must continue. It’s a tight race for statewide ballot measure to increase the number of affordable housing units in the state, which we hope will become a victory. A local Denver measure that would have given renters a better chance at fighting unjust evictions fell short. The ACLU has supported legal assistance for those facing evictions for over three decades, and the fight doesn’t stop here.
While Election Day is behind us, our civic responsibility as voters is not. Faith leader, and activist, Reverend Leah D. Daughtry said, “Election must be a lifestyle, not an event.” Now we must look ahead to the 2023 and 2024 elections.
We also turn our attention to the Colorado State Legislature, where we look forward to working with newly elected state lawmakers of all political affiliation and our longtime civil rights champions to address pervasive inequality in access to housing, advancing privacy and personal liberty, and creating better, more effective and more just approaches to community safety.