Secretary of State Jena Griswold at the Colorado Politics Legislative Launch Party, held Wednesday, Jan. 15, at the Brown Palace Hotel.

The push to ensure that all Coloradans have sufficient voting access in Colorado continues, with a recent visit by Secretary of State Jena Griswold to Southwest Colorado to meet with representatives of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and Southern Ute Tribe to discuss increased voting access for Native Americans living on tribal lands. 

“Voting rights were not guaranteed to Native Americans living on tribal lands in Colorado until 1970, when the Colorado Constitution was amended,” Griswold said in a statement Wednesday.  “We need to recognize historical voter suppression, and work to increase voting access and participation on tribal lands. That’s why I am happy to continue our work on voting access with Chairman Heart and the tribal council of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and Chairman Sage and the tribal council of the Southern Ute Tribe. Last year, we worked together to pass law that guarantees a polling center and drop boxes on tribal lands. This year, we are collaborating on ways to continue to increase access.”

Manuel Heart, chairman of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, said they were honored to partner with the secretary "to increase voter education and outreach among Native Americans in Southwest Colorado." Christine Sage, chairman of the Southern Ute Tribe, said the Secretary of State's office "has led the nation by bringing about voter equality to the members of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe as well as including tribally issued identification as proper identification when registering to vote or going to the polls on election day.”

Those discussions have prompted a pledge from Griswold to to hire additional staff focused on Native American outreach and to fund additional ballot drop boxes, including one in Arboles, in Archuleta County, to better serve tribal members.

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