COLORADO- In 2016 a ballot question to remove a mention of slavery in the Colorado Constitution narrowly failed by less than one percent.
Two years later, a group is working to get it to pass this time. In May, Colorado lawmakers voted to put the question on the ballot, this time, worded a little differently. Something the group behind the ballot question hopes will help it pass.
‘In 2016 the language on the ballot itself was utterly confusing, people weren’t sure if they were voting yes to keep the exception in or no they didn’t want the exception in there- there was just a lot of confusion on the ballot itself,’ said Caitlin Trussell, a pastor and organizer for the ballot.
Amendment A on the ballot this year is a question of whether voters approve of removing the mention of slavery in the Colorado Constitution that allows slavery and indentured servitude to be used as a form of punishment for convicted criminals.
While slavery and indentured servitude are already prohibited in the constitution, this measure would ensure it is prohibited in all circumstances.
The section of the Colorado Constitution reads, “That there shall never be in this State either slavery or involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”
Trussell, who says her ancestors were slave owners, says she’s passionate about getting this question to pass.
In 2016, concern over how the question could impact prisoner work programs may have also had an impact on the passing of the amendment.
‘The reality is, work in prisons is accomplished in a voluntary capacity, there’s all kind of ways that that works,’ said Trussell.
With unanimous support from the legislature, and no registered opposition, the group is hopeful voters will pass the measure.
‘I think in 2018, the shock of 2016 has worn off in terms of the measure, the amendment, not passing and everyone’s on board and very hopeful and very willing to do what it takes to see that this language is removed,’ said Trussell.