DENVER (CN) - Anti-abortion activists say in court that Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler sank their ballot initiative by nixing their petition and not giving them enough time to amend.
Initiative 46, also known as the Personhood Amendment, would ban abortion statewide.
The amendment states that "the right to life ... applies equally to all innocent persons," regardless of the person's "stage of development."
Rosalinda Lozano and Kevin Swanson filed a writ of mandamus complaint on behalf of the initiative, demanding an opportunity to appear on the ballot for either 2012 or 2014.
They say that secretary of state rejected the initiative even though the Personhood Coalition submitted more than the 86,105 signatures required by the state to appear on a statewide ballot.
For unknown reasons, Gessler allegedly struck the signatures of 23,873 people who signed the petition.
Coalition members say they acted immediately to replace the rejected signatures with those of legitimate voters, but Gessler thwarted them again by refusing to grant an extension past the Aug. 6 deadline.
"On September 11, 2012, the Secretary's office informed plaintiffs that he was denying them any time to cure the insufficiency," the complaint states.
Proponents of the Personhood Amendment say they "had a shortened, unimpeded time to gather signatures" because of "a prolonged legal challenge to Ballot Initiative 46."
Opponents of the amendment filed a petition to have it removed from the ballot in the Colorado Supreme Court in January, according to the complaint.
The coalition says that the court ultimately affirmed the legitimacy of its amendment, but that valuable time was lost in the process.
Colorado law allegedly affords a six-month window for petitioners to gather the requisite number of signatures to appear on a statewide ballot.
Because of a "delay in obtaining a decision by the Colorado Supreme Court," the coalition's "time was already unreasonably impeded by at least 2 months," according to the complaint.
"Plaintiffs could not begin to circulate petitions unimpeded until March 4, 2012," they say.
Stymied by this delay, the Personhood Coalition says it was "unable to gather enough signatures deemed by the Secretary for their initiative to be placed on the 2012 ballot."
The activists seek a writ of mandamus that would give them "no less than an additional 60 days in which to gather signatures," or "the right to have new signatures that the Secretary deems sufficient to be added to the heretofore-deemed-sufficient signatures."
The complaint recognizes that the upcoming election is likely "too near in time to rectify the violations of plaintiffs' rights in a way that would permit them additional time and opportunity to cure any insufficiency."
Accordingly, the plaintiffs also seek a court order "to place Ballot Initiative 46 on the ballot for the 2014 election."
The plaintiffs are represented by Rebecca Messall with the Messall Law Firm.