DENVER (KDVR) — Families in Boulder County continue to rebuild three months after the Marshall Fire left much of their communities in ruins.
As they get their lives back on track, lawmakers passed a bill Friday in hopes of restoring some normalcy for them.
Despite not having a physical place to call home, many families displaced by the most destructive wildfire in state history still feel like Boulder County is home. State lawmakers want their vote to reflect that if the residents want it to.
Democratic Rep. Tracey Bernett represents Louisville and parts of Boulder at the Capitol. She knows how the communities impacted by the fire are tight-knit.
“I’ve heard many, many constituents talk about they want to stay in the community, their kids go to school there, their workplace is there, their friends are there,” Bernett said. “Residents are saying how they want to rebuild their community and a key part of that is being able to vote.”
Bernett knows folks like Danielle Fagan, who lost everything in the fire, eventually want to come back to where their house stood. But as these families wait to rebuild, lawmakers want them to continue to be able to weigh in on decisions that will impact where their homes were.
“This bill simply says that if a resident’s home is destroyed through a natural disaster or some other reason and they want to rebuild on that same address, they can do that and they can use that same address as the place they are registered to vote,” Bernett explained.
It’s a simple gesture that could make a huge impact for the residents.
“The elections are coming up again, and I’m really happy I will still be able to vote for the neighborhood and the things that are in my neighborhood that are still super important to me. So I think it’s important to everyone to be able to still have that choice. We obviously didn’t choose to have our homes destroyed,” Fagan said.
Secretary of State Jena Griswold praised the bill’s passage, saying in a statement:
“Coloradans who become displaced because of a natural disaster like the Marshall Fire should be able to use their home address to vote in elections despite temporarily having to live elsewhere. This bill will provide certainty to Colorado voters who are affected by natural disasters. No person should have to worry about being able to access the ballot box during such an incredibly difficult time, and these voters should be able to cast a ballot on the issues and candidates for the community that they truly call home. I thank Senate President Fenberg, Senator Jaquez Lewis, Representative Gray, and Representative Bernett for their leadership on this important piece of legislation.”Secretary of State Jena Griswold
The measure passed both the House and Senate, with only Fremont County Republican Rep. Ron Hanks voting against it. It now heads to Gov. Jared Polis. It would take effect immediately after he signs it.