A measure that would allow paroled felons to vote in Colorado passed the state Senate Friday and now heads to Gov. Jared Polis.
Some Senate Republicans claimed the measure is unconstitutional. Despite those objections, House Bill 1266 picked up four Republican "yes" votes in a 23-12 decision, including that of Sen. Vicki Marble of Fort Collins, a former bail bondswoman.
The measure passed the House on April 10.
In Colorado currently, convicted felons can vote only after completing their prison sentence and exiting parole.
Objections to the measure were raised during Friday'sdebate by Republican Sen. John Cooke of Greeley, formerly the sheriff of Weld County, who pointed out people on parole aren't going to use their restored voting rights to follow the straight and narrow and stop committing crimes.
"Let's restore their Second Amendment rights!" Cooke said, tongue in cheek.
Republican Sen. Bob Gardner of Colorado Springs pointed out that those on parole are still serving out their sentences. They can be sent back to jail without a new trial just for violating parole, he explained. And the bill is likely unconstitutional, Gardner told the Senate.
Republican Sen. Owen Hill, also of Colorado Springs, said he would vote in favor of the bill.
"You can go to jail for not doing a good job on your taxes. ... As government has expanded, the abuse of the power of the sword and to imprison has also been abused," Hill said.
"This is a vote against the power of the sword" and in favor of trusting the voter, he added.
The bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Leslie Herod of Denver and Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg of Boulder, is backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, several county clerks and Colorado Common Cause.