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In the runup to the 2022 elections — the primary will be held June 28 and the general election on Nov. 8 — the Indy will offer some facts about elections to dispel rumors and misconceptions that travel the internet and other informational channels.

Misconception: Incarcerated felons are eligible to vote.

This is false.

In the state of Colorado, it is illegal to vote while serving a sentence for a felony conviction. It is also illegal to register to vote.

Each month, the secretary of state’s office receives data from the Colorado Department of Corrections; voter registration is canceled for those incarcerated due to felony convictions. Once they are released from prison, they can reregister.

If a person has a pending case or is awaiting trial, they are still allowed to vote. And people out of prison and on parole for felony convictions are also eligible to vote. As it says on Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s website, “Persons sentenced to parole are considered to have completed their ‘full term of imprisonment’ as that term appears in the state constitution. ... The day you are released from detention or incarceration is the day your eligibility to register to vote is restored.”

House Bill 1266, which went into effect in 2019, restored voting rights to Coloradans on parole. (Before then, parolees only had the option to pre-register to vote.) Despite this, whether parolees have the right to vote or not remains a point of confusion. A Marshall Project article, published March 24 in partnership with The Colorado Sun, points to outdated government messaging as a reason — more specifically, official forms (like the “Voter Registration Choice Form”) used in some counties that had not been updated to reflect current laws. 

An analysis conducted — using parolee data from the Colorado Department of Corrections and voter registration data from the Colorado Secretary of State — shows that only 27 percent of Colorado residents on parole have registered to vote. “The Colorado voter registration forms warn that even registering to vote could be a misdemeanor,” says The Marshall Project. “If there is any confusion, experts say people might err on the side of caution, causing further disenfranchisement.”

For more information, see tinyurl.com/co-vote-info.

Indy readers are invited to submit their own questions about election procedures to news@csindy.com with “mythbusters” in the subject line. 

Anna Fiorino is a graduate from San Diego State University. She is a journalist with (more than three but less than twenty) years of experience. In her free time, she edits novels.