October 12, 2012
The ACLU of Colorado recently scored a victory that will positively impact future elections in our important swing state. The City of Durango Library Director sent an email to library staff incorrectly advising staff that it was illegal for people to register voters while wearing campaign paraphernalia. An Organizing for America voter registration volunteer working outside the Durango Public Library was asked by a Durango Public Library employee to stop his voter registration activities because he was wearing campaign buttons. The volunteer then contacted the ACLU of Colorado to verify that the city’s policy was not supported by Colorado law. The volunteer’s suspicion was correct, there is no law in Colorado which prohibits private citizens from donning clothing, wearing buttons, or stickers, or otherwise carrying signs indicating support for a particular candidate while registering voters.
In response to the volunteer’s report about Durango’s mistaken directive to its employees, ACLU staff attorney Sara Rich sent a letter to the Director of the Durango Public Library to address the fact that library employees were violating the First Amendment rights of citizens and impeding open access to voter registration solely based on the flawed policy. The Durango City Attorney responded to the ACLU of Colorado’s letter and agreed to notify the Library Director and the City Clerk that the City of Durango will no longer attempt to prohibit citizens from registering voters while wearing campaign paraphernalia. This decision brings the City of Durango in line with the law in our state which allows private citizens to register voters while wearing campaign paraphernalia, as long as the individual does not discriminate based on party affiliation and registers all individuals who seek to register.