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Colorado votes to abolish slavery

Colorado votes to abolish slavery
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Colorado voters on Tuesday voted in favor of an amendment to the state's Constitution that would completely abolish slavery, striking language that allows slavery or involuntary servitude in the case that it is "a punishment for crime." 

Sixty-five percent of voters voted in support of the amendment, which changes Article II, Section 26 of Colorado's Constitution to state, "There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude." Thirty-seven percent of voters voted against the change.

The amendment needed 55 percent support to pass.

A similar amendment failed two years ago because voters were confused about what it meant, NPR reported.

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"Proponents [of the amendment], including Abolish Slavery Colorado, argue that the state constitution should be updated because it represents a time when not all people were seen as human beings or treated with dignity," Colorado Public Radio reported. "Opponents say the change could result in legal uncertainty around current prisoner work practices in the state."

The U.S. Constitution's 13th Amendment still includes a clause that bans slavery and servitude "except as a punishment." 

Critics have expressed concern that the new language will make it unconstitutional for incarcerated individuals to work in prisons, Colorado Public Radio reported. 

"Of course prisoners' lawsuits will invoke this measure to advance claims against our prisons," Richard Collins, a professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder's law school, told NPR. "What will our courts do with that?"