Acontroversial decision granting Washington felons the right to vote has been placed on hold pending a state appeal to the Supreme Court.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation's largest regional court of appeals, decided Thursday to stay its decision, giving the Washington secretary of state time to appeal.

In early January the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit overturned Washington's felon disenfranchisement law on the grounds that it disproportionately affected minority groups.

The ruling opened the door for thousands of inmates, as well as those on probation or parole, to vote.

Last year, lawmakers passed a law that allows convicted felons to reregister to vote once they're no longer on parole or probation.

Previously, felons who were no longer in state custody but owed court-ordered fines and restitution were barred from voting.

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