Colorado Rights Blog


  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 

  • Ronald Johnson is pre-diabetic, suffers from asthma and high blood pressure, and regularly uses an inhaler to breathe. His age and respiratory ailments put him at risk of serious illness and death if he contracts COVID-19. With over hundreds of active cases in Colorado’s prisons, his family fears he will not make it out alive. His daughter, Amber, says, “In prison, he can’t protect himself and he can’t social distance. My deep fear is that my dad will die in prison. That is an awful, traumatic reality to consider. My chest is tight just thinking about how quickly it spreads and how vulnerable he is.”

    Governor Hickenlooper shortened his sentence following testimony from family, friends and correctional officers advocating for his early release. Yet, he is still eight years away from parole. While he remains in prison, COVID-19 continues to spread. Ronald’s three siblings, four children and four grandchildren are desperate for his release.

    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.

  • Tuesday Olson knew her pregnancy was in trouble and tried to access hospital care as soon as possible. But there was a problem: she was in jail. This is her story.
  • It’s time to end the death penalty in Colorado. Family members who lost loved ones to murder speak out against an unjust and broken system.

A Few Questions for Scott Gessler

A Few Questions for Scott Gessler

Statement of C. Ray Drew
Executive Director
ACLU of Colorado

As Colorado’s Secretary of State, it is Scott Gessler’s job to supervise and administer our state’s elections. This is no small task, as voting is the essence of democracy. That is why we find it puzzling that he has decided to sue the City of Denver for helping its eligible voters cast their ballots. Instead of ensuring that Coloradans can vote, our Secretary of State is taking the unprecedented step of spending public money to keep the public from voting.

Why? Gessler leaves us guessing.

His actions would make it harder for lawful voters to cast their ballot simply because they haven’t voted in the last year. Maybe they were out of the country and did not request an absentee ballot. Perhaps they were serving in the military or were ill or simply felt uninspired by the choices available to them on the ballot. There are many reasons that voters cannot or do not cast a vote.

But to go as far as to file a lawsuit to prevent them from receiving a ballot — to make it HARDER to vote — leaves us questioning the commitment of the Secretary of State to the mission of his own office – to ensure the integrity of elections. What is more integral to an election than ensuring that all lawfully eligible voters can exercise that right?

What are his motives here?

Gessler says he won’t attempt to invalidate the ballots of inactive overseas voters already mailed by Denver, so his lawsuit is not about uniformity in ensuring the right to vote. It’s also not about voter fraud since it has been proven that so very little of that exists. Who is willing to risk eighteen months in jail for the “reward” of improperly voting? Gessler’s action is also not about saving money because it costs many more taxpayer dollars to launch a legal challenge of Denver election procedures than it would to simply but a stamp on a ballot and mail it to a voter who might be “inactive” but is otherwise eligible to vote.

As a candidate Gessler claimed to have “repeatedly fought for fair and open elections.” That may be, but this lawsuit is anything but a fair fight. Denver believes that the opportunity to vote is worth the price of a stamp and our Secretary of State should honor that decision, not fight it. Our democracy is stronger when more citizens who participate in elections. Any attempt to keep Coloradans from voting is simply shameful.

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