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Federal judges to rehear felony inmate voting case

Wed., April 28, 2010, 2:05 p.m.

OLYMPIA — A federal appeals court will reconsider a lawsuit that challenges Washington’s ban on felons voting while they’re in prison.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the state’s request to rehear the case in a brief order issued Tuesday.

In January, a three-judge panel of the appellate court overturned Washington’s felon disenfranchisement law, saying minorities were disproportionately affected. The ruling opened the door for voting by thousands of felony inmates, as well as those on probation or parole.

Last year, state legislators passed a law allowing convicted felons to vote again once they finish any parole or probation. Previously, felons who were no longer in state custody were barred from voting if they still owed fines and restitution.

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