By Tori Mason

UPDATE: National Voting Rights Leaders Converge On Denver for First-Of-Its-Kind Event To Combat Voter Suppression

DENVER (CBS4) – City leaders from all over the country are in Denver this weekend advocating for voter protection. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot are convening city and elections officials for the Nation Nonpartisan Conversation on Voter Rights. The goal is to develop a framework for implementing strategies to protect voter rights and access to polls.

(credit: CBS)

More than 400 bills aiming to restrict voter access were introduced in 49 states this legislative session. The City of Denver says this is the most aggressive wave of voter restrictions the country has seen in decades.

“So many lives were lost and so much blood was shed for all of us to vote. It is just unconscionable that people are trying to rollback or make more restrictive access to voting,” said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “We couldn’t sit still and let that happen without raising our voices and saying we can do better than this.”

This week, Senate Republicans filibustered a bill that would allow for same-day registration and make Election Day a holiday. Colorado is one of 20 states, and Washington D.C., that allow same-day voter registration.

“Colorado voters were choosing to vote by mail and we made a conscious decision to react to that,” said Amber McReynolds, CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute. “Many around the country are working to expand that access and replicate what Colorado has been successful at.”

(credit: CBS)

Amber McReynolds was also once Denver’s Director of Elections. About 80 million people did not vote in the 2020 election. She says increasing voter participation will be a topic at this weekend’s conversation.

“The 2020 election was the highest turnout we’ve had on record, and yet a third of the electorate that was eligible did not vote,” said McReynolds. “That’s the real conversation we need to have now. Was it an access issue? Was in an education issue? How do we improve on that going forward to bring those 80 million people into the process who didn’t vote?”

Over the next few days, leaders in attendance want to set a national action plan to stop partisan efforts that diminish voter access, especially in communities of color.

“We need to make sure we protect that right. It’s the hallmark of democracy. Every nation around the world is looking at the United States of America and recognizes that freedom and access to voting that makes a difference. We ought to raise alarms when we see that being tampered with,” said Hancock.

Tori Mason