Judge dismisses felony voting case against Colorado Democrat candidate for governor
A Colorado judge Thursday threw out a felony ballot access conviction against a Colorado Democratic candidate for governor who was convicted of committing felony voting and serving a short term in prison on his felony conviction.
At the time of his conviction, in 2006, a jury found him guilty of two felonies: forgery and fraudulent use of a credit card, for which he was sentenced to two years behind bars, and voting by an ineligible person, a felony, for which he was sentenced to two years behind bars.
The three-year prison sentence was stayed by the judge, and his felony conviction for the felony ballot access case was dismissed without prejudice, meaning the election he was trying to overturn remains in place. His felony conviction for the felony was appealed, which is why he was returned to prison because he hadn’t finished his appeal.
The judge’s dismissal of the felony conviction, which came after prosecutors appealed the decision to dismiss his conviction for felony voting, could be a blow to Democrats in Colorado who were trying to oust Gov. John Hickenlooper in November.
The Democrats had sued the Republican governor over his veto of a voter ID law, which they claimed would disenfranchise voters. They claimed the Supreme Court in the 2012 Shelby County v. Holder ruling had ruled that anyone who “demonstrates a colorable claim to be a registered voter” could not be denied access to the ballot.
The case now returns to Colorado state courts.
Democratic Party of Colorado communications director Jeremy Sutta said he was “overjoyed” with the judge’s dismissal.
“The voters of Boulder County shouldn’t have to wait years, or spend money paying lawyers to litigate this issue again,” he said. “The voters of Boulder County should be able to be confident that every citizen will have an equal opportunity to participate in a democratic process.”
Democrats will now pursue the issue in the Colorado Supreme Court.
The ruling Thursday came on an amended complaint, which the judge filed in response to Republicans’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The original complaint accused Hickenlooper of blocking access to the ballot for the voter ID law but didn’t mention a misdemeanor conviction.
Democrats were also hoping that the judge would find it was illegal to use someone’s felony conviction to deny them access to the ballot, according to Sutta.
Democrats had argued that the voter ID law was a pretext for denying voter ID