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colorado > Colorado Electoral Code > Qualifications And Registration Of Electors

1-2-103. Military service – students – inmates – persons with mental illness

Overview of Statute

For voter registration purposes, individuals can neither gain residence, nor lose residence, in the state because of civil or military service, attendance at any institution of higher education, or while incarcerated. Students attending institutions of higher education and individuals confined in any institute for mental illnesses cannot be denied the ability to register or vote if satisfying the qualifications in § C.R.S.A. 1–2–101. Individuals currently incarcerated or on parole cannot register or vote in any election, but a confined individual currently awaiting trial can register to vote by mail in accordance with C.R.S.A. § 1–2–105.

Statute

(1) For the purposes of registration, voting, and eligibility for office, no person shall gain residence by reason of that person’s presence, or lose it by reason of absence, while in the civil or military service of the state or of the United States; nor while a student at any institution of higher education; nor while confined in a correctional facility, jail, or state institution.

(2) The provisions of subsection (1) of this section notwithstanding, no person otherwise qualified under the provisions of this code shall be denied the right to register or to vote at any election held within this state solely because that person is a student at an institution of higher education.

(3) No provision in this section shall apply in the determination of residence or residence status of students for any college or university purpose.

(4) No person while serving a sentence of detention or confinement in a correctional facility, jail, or other location for a felony conviction or while serving a sentence of parole shall be eligible to register to vote or to vote in any election; however, a confined prisoner who is awaiting trial but has not been tried shall be certified by the institutional administrator and shall be permitted to register to vote by mail registration pursuant to part 5 of this article.

(5) A person confined in a state institution for persons with mental illness shall not lose the right to vote because of the confinement.

 

Source: L. 92: Entire article R&RE, p. 637, § 2, effective January 1, 1993.L. 95: (4) amended, p. 821, § 6, effective July 1.L. 2005: (4) amended, p. 1395, § 5, effective June 6; (4) amended, p. 1430, § 5, effective June 6.L. 2006: (5) amended, p. 1394, § 29, effective August 7.

 

Editor’s note: This section is similar to former § 1-2-103 as it existed prior to 1992.

Cross references: For when residence does not change because of presence in the state as a student, inmate, or due to civil or military service, see § 4 of art. VII, Colo. Const.; for disfranchisement during imprisonment, see § 10 of art. VII, Colo. Const.
 
ANNOTATION
 
I. General Consideration.
II. Civil or Military Service.
III. Students.
IV. Inmates.
 
I.GENERAL CONSIDERATION.

Law reviews. For article, “Due Process in Involuntary Civil Commitment and Incompetency Adjudication Proceedings: Where Does Colorado Stand?”, see 46 Den. L.J. 516 (1969).

Annotator’s note. The following annotations include cases decided under former provisions similar to this section.

Judicial notice taken of location of public institutions and elections precinct boundaries. Israel v. Wood, 93 Colo. 500, 27 P.2d 1024 (1933).

A person serving a sentence of parole does not meet the constitutional requirement of having served out the full term of imprisonment and, therefore, is ineligible to vote. Danielson v. Dennis, 139 P.3d 688 (Colo. 2006).
 
II.CIVIL OR MILITARY SERVICE.

Mere presence of disabled soldiers in government hospital does not constitute residence. A hospital maintained by the United States government for the treatment of disabled soldiers, who may be transferred or discharged as determined by the government authorities, is an asylum, as that term is used in § 4 of art. VII, Colo. Const., and the inmates of such an institution are not, on account of their mere residence there, entitled to vote at general elections, as the presence in such a hospital does not constitute a residence as is required by this section. Merrill v. Shearston, 73 Colo. 230, 214 P. 540 (1923).
 
III.STUDENTS.

A student has no right to vote at the place where he resides for the purposes of education. Sharp v. McIntire, 23 Colo. 99, 46 P. 115 (1896).

Thus a student in a college town is presumed not to have the right to vote. Merrill v. Shearston, 73 Colo. 230, 214 P. 540 (1923).

And if he attempts to vote, the burden is upon him to prove his residence at that place, which must be done by other evidence than his mere presence in the town. Merrill v. Shearston, 73 Colo. 230, 214 P. 540 (1923).

Moreover, a student coming to the state for the sole purpose of attending school, not intending to stay after the completion of his course, does not acquire a residence for the purpose of voting. Parsons v. People, 30 Colo. 388, 70 P. 689 (1902).
 
IV.INMATES.

Presence in an institution as public charges raised a presumption against the right to vote in the precinct in which such is situated and requires evidence to overcome that presumption. Merrill v. Shearston, 73 Colo. 230, 214 P. 540 (1923); Kemp v. Heebner, 77 Colo. 177, 234 P. 1068 (1925); Israel v. Wood, 93 Colo. 500, 27 P.2d 1024 (1933).

But if, just prior to becoming inmates, voters have a bona fide residence in the precinct in which an institution is situated, they do not lose their residence in that precinct by becoming inmates. Israel v. Wood, 93 Colo. 500, 27 P.2d 1024 (1933).

“Prisoner” construed. The term “prisoner”, as used in subsection (4), means one confined to serve a term of imprisonment. Moore v. MacFarlane, 642 P.2d 496 (Colo. 1982) (decided under this section as it existed prior to 1992 repeal and reenactment of this article).

Pretrial detainees may vote. Subsection (4) does not prohibit pretrial detainees confined in a jail or correctional facility from exercising the right to vote. Moore v. MacFarlane, 642 P.2d 496 (Colo. 1982) (decided under this section as it existed prior to 1992 repeal and reenactment of this article).

Definition [United States]

Used in the territorial sense, means the several states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, and any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. C.R.S. § 1-8.3-102.

Definition [State]

A state of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. C.R.S. § 1-8.3-102.

Definition [Person]

Any natural person, partnership, committee, association, corporation, labor organization, political party, or other organization or group of persons. Section 2(11) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

Definition [Election]

Any election under the “Uniform Election Code of 1992” or the “Colorado Municipal Election Code of 1965”, article 10 of title 31, C.R.S. C.R.S. § 1-7.5-103.

Cases

colorado Cases

Case Name: Danielson v. Dennis

Citation: 139 P.3d 688

Year: 2006

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/7e1ce5742b7020b61bbae092f3be6d64

Case Summary: Holding that a person serving a sentence on parole had not served a full term of imprisonment for purposes of constitutional provision restoring voting rights to persons who were qualified electors prior to their imprisonment and who served their full term of imprisonment.

Case Name: Kemp v. Heebner

Citation: 77 Colo. 177

Year: 1925

Case Summary: Holding that hospital employees who resided at the hospital were not qualified to vote, because such residence did not constitute a residence such as was required for the qualification of voters.

Case Name: Merrill v. Shearston

Citation: 214 P. 540

Year: 1923

Case Summary: Affirming decision of the trial court that patients at a hospital were not qualified to vote, because evidence did not show their intent to make a home in the precinct.

Case Name: Parsons v. People

Citation: 70 P. 689

Year: 1902

Case PDF: Parsons v. People

Case Summary: Holding that one did not gain residence for purposes of voting eligibility by reason of presence in the state while a student at any institution of learning in the state.

Out-of-State Cases

Federal Cases

Additional Resources

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