Effort to get more Colorado parolees registered to vote underway

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DENVER -- They haven't even finished their sentences yet, but more than 11,000 Coloradans on parole now have the right to vote. That's because earlier this summer, Gov. Jared Polis signed into law a measure giving parolees the right to vote.

At the Second Chance Center in Denver, a new effort is underway to inform paroled Coloradans of their new right.

"It makes me feel like I'm that much closer to the goal of being a regular citizen again," Paul Keener, a recently paroled Coloradan, said about the right to register.

Keener was paroled in April after serving several years in Canon City for theft, fraud and forgery.

"We have a chance to make an impact," Keener said about the new voting block of paroled Coloradans.

The latest numbers show 11, 467 men and women are on parole in Colorado and most live in the metro Denver area.

"We are looking to get more folks involved in this next election," said Hassan A. Latif, director of the Second Chance Center.

Latif says while some will be automatically registered to vote if they signed up in recent years, the vast majority still need to fill out the paperwork, which is no different from when a typical Coloradan registers to vote.

"There is no extra barriers for those on parole," Latif said.

When the measure was passed by the General Assembly, it was opposed mostly by Republicans -- but Keener says many paroled Coloradans may end up voting for conservative candidates.

"Based on my experience being incarcerated, there are a lot of conservative people out there," Kenner said.

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