Colorado county clerks are divided over bill to require voting service centers in jails

By Marianne Goodland | Colorado Politics

The state Senate Judiciary Committee is expected in the coming weeks to take its first look at a bill that has divided the usually united county clerks in Colorado over allowing people in jail to vote on election day. This could cost the state between $200,000 and $1 million.

If passed, Senate Bill 72 would require county clerks to set up voting service centers in jails and detention facilities to allow eligible prisoners to vote.

Clerks in the state’s smaller counties are calling it an unfunded mandate, while sheriffs are taking issues with the bill’s language regarding possible penalties for jail facilities not in compliance.

The bill’s fiscal note shows a state cost of $200,000, but opponents claim the real cost could be closer to $1 million, largely due to the cost of equipment that will be needed in every county jail. As a result, that could become an unfunded mandate for county clerks who will have to cover those costs from existing budgets.