Colorado Supreme Court to consider whether parolees can vote |

Colorado Supreme Court to consider whether parolees can vote

DENVER ” The Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to consider a case that could determine whether about 6,000 people serving parole in the state should be allowed to vote, including in this year’s elections.

In an announcement issued late Monday, the court said it would review a ruling by a Denver District Court judge who upheld a state law prohibiting parolees from voting.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in November on behalf of two nonprofit groups and Michael Danielson of Fort Collins, who was ordained a pastor while in prison on drug and theft charges.

Danielson, who was paroled in 2003, runs a ministry for recently released prisoners. He has said restoring parolees’ voting rights would help them in their transition from prison.

In their appeal, attorneys for Danielson, the Colorado Criminal Justice Coalition and Colorado-CURE argued that under the state Constitution, prisoners’ voting rights should be restored when they are released from prison, even if they are still on parole.

But in his ruling, Denver District Judge Michael Martinez concluded that convicted felons have not served a full prison term until all components of the sentence ” including parole ” are completed.

Attorney Norm Mueller, who represents Danielson and the other plaintiffs, said lawmakers violated the Constitution in 1995 when they amended a law to say people on parole cannot vote.

Kristen Hubbell, a spokeswoman for Attorney General John Suthers, said the state will continue to defend the law. The state must file its initial brief by Monday.

Mueller said the Supreme Court could issue a ruling in time for the Aug. 8 primary election.

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