DENVER — A Colorado bill is aiming to level the playing field for people with disabilities. The bill ensures that the caucus process, which is accessible for candidates with disabilities, remains an option in Colorado.
State Rep. David Ortiz, Colorado's first elected wheelchair user, is sponsoring the legislation.
"This bill is based off personal experience, when I was thinking about being a first-time candidate," said Ortiz. "Petitioning was not the route that was going to work for me, so I went through the caucus route.”
The Littleton Democrat said the caucus process was crucial during election season, since going door-to-door for petition signatures was difficult for him. Recent discussions have taken place focused on removing the caucus process entirely. The new bill would ensure that caucuses remain an option.
"Your issues with caucuses don't justify discriminating against and removing the only means for candidates with a disability to get on the ballot," said Ortiz.
The bill also allows candidates to attend precinct caucuses virtually if the venue isn't accessible. Ortiz says virtual options are possible due to the pandemic.
"As soon as able-bodied people were threatened, we were able to teach, govern and work virtually," he said.
During the last legislative hearing, several amendments were adopted in the bill. One amendment provides alternative options for rural areas, where candidates may not be able to access broadband internet.